Reflections on the year!

Well it’s been a little over a year since I came to Nicaragua to learn Spanish and volunteer with children with disabilities. What a year it has been! I have received support from so many people, in so many ways. It has been wonderfully overwhelming to be so supported! My gratitude is beyond words.

I thank all of you so much, but want to give special thanks to my ever supportive parents and sisters, my board members and dear friends, Jane, Jeani, Elaine, and Krista Jo, webmaster Jim Austin, Keith Schwartz for encouragement and finding 11 specialized chairs, Richard Parnell for technical support in adaptations, Dee Dee Freney, Dave O’Brien, Lisanne and her family and friends in Holland, motor team and all staff at EC Cares. Hermana Rebecca from Familias Especiales, to each and everyone of you for your interest and support, I am so thankful.

Since last December with support from so many we have provided:

Accessibility
Built 9 ramps, making two schools and one home accessible.

Wheelchairs and adaptive equipment
Provided and fitted 20 simple and complex chairs, 3 walkers, 3 canes, 5 pairs of crutches

Basic needs
Provided numerous supportive shoes, 3 mattresses, 3 strollers to transport children with disabilities, pampers and nutritional supplements for two children. Transportation costs for 7 children in wheelchairs or from rural areas

Physical therapy and equipment
Provided weekly physical therapy to 16 children in school and one weekly home visit
Provided equipment for physical therapist, including two mats, therapy ball,
Built a playground from recycled tires
Built adaptations for wheelchairs, trikes, carts,
Provided braces
Built a supportive chair from cardboard

Psychologist and special education services
Provided a classroom, led by a psychologist to 27 children, in four groups divided by age and ability.
Provided all classroom materials including books, puzzles, manipulatives, hammock, musical instruments, paper, pens, chairs, tables, and so much more!

Parent and staff training
Provided training to parents and staff in a range of strategies for children with disabilities.
15 educators visited us to learn about our class and strategies used.
A teacher and physical therapist visited us to learn about our strategies, for several weeks

Parent support and community building
Led parent support group and connected parents with resources for support with medication, food, braces, glasses, evaluations
Connected with minister of education, health center, special ed school, Los Pipitos locally and in Managua, hospitals in Managua, mayor
Hosted four parties with over 60 people coming to each one. Provided folk dancing, piñatas, food, drinks, gifts for children with disabilities and their families

Supported inclusion
Mediation between school staff and families for children integrated in regular school.
Loaned educational materials to families and teachers for children who are mainstreamed.

Created a website, and a non-profit organisation
See http://www.cielodeamor.org for website with lots more photos and information
See http://www.cielodeamor.wordpress.com for weekly updates on our blog

What’s next?
We would love to continue and expand this project. If you are moved to support us either by sharing your expertise, fundraising, donating money, or encouraging words, we would be so grateful. Please contact us at info@cielodeamor.org, or donate directly on our website.

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