Guest Speaker: Danielle Griffin, Executive Director of AboutFace

 
AboutFace’s mission is to promote and enhance positive mental and emotional well-being of individuals with facial differences and their families through social and peer support, information, educational programs and awareness.
 
Every year in Canada more than 15,000 babies are born with a facial difference; and over 50,000 Canadians will acquire a facial difference through trauma or illness. It’s estimated that over 1.5 Million Canadians are living with a facial difference, and over 80% will experience mental health issues; yet only 20% will seek professional help.
 
Living with a facial difference is something you can’t hide. It is a social disability that often creates barriers to communication, socialization, education, employment and aspirations. It can be a lonely and overwhelming experience. Affected individuals often face public ridicule, bullying, staring, humiliation, peer rejection, and social isolation. Unsupported these actions can affect the mental and emotional well-being of a person, resulting in depression, withdrawal, anxiety disorders, and in some cases, suicide.
 
AboutFace offers a wide variety of programs, services and resources designed to encourage, empower and educate parents, children, adults and allies about the challenges and opportunities of living with a facial difference. These programs include:
 
  • Camp Trailblazers: summer camp for children under 18. This camp helps kids with facial differences build confidence, friendship, and deal with isolation and suicidal thoughts
  • Adult Retreat: a weekend getaway for adults with facial differences
  • Employment training and employer education
  • Peer Support
  • Public awareness and education campaigns
Aboutface’s goals through 2020 include:
 
  • Increased public awareness of facial difference issues
  • Create more mental health programs
  • Increase peer support
  • Open 3 more summer camps
  • Connect with elementary schools to create awareness programs and decrease bullying
Aboutface has an annual budget of $400,000 and does not receive any government funding. If you want to help, donations and volunteers are always needed and appreciated. There website can be found at www.aboutface.ca