Give. It’s one of our company Core Values, and something we try to weave into everything we do. There are the little bits of giving, like the chocolate left on the desk of a colleague after a yucky IEP meeting. There are the medium bits of giving, like our visits to Northwest Children’s Outreach. And then there the are the BIG bits of giving that come in the form of our international service trips. First it was Costa Rica, then Bosnia and Herzegovina, and now, as announced last month, we will be going to Baños, Ecuador. Yes, that’s right. We’re going to “The Gateway to the Amazon.” Because, go big or go home, right?
Heather, a wonderful SLP and seasoned service-trip veteran, is heading up this project. She has been working on the groundwork for several months and has established a relationship with Esperanza para todos, whose mission is to provide education and therapy for families who have children with disabilities. Founded in 2008 by local parents, Esperanza para todos (which, incidentally, means “hope for all” in Spanish) provides daily, professional therapeutic care to 20-25 children with disabilities so that their parents can continue to hold jobs and provide a greater quality of life for their families. The Esperanza para todos team consists of 8 people: 1 physical therapist, 1 educational psychologist, 1 teacher, 1 preschool teacher, 1 occupational therapist, 1 cook, 1 master basic education teacher who helps a driver, and Yadira Escobar, the director. The students, who attend from 8am – 4pm each day, receive physical therapy, educational psychology, occupational therapy, special education, educational recovery, sensory stimulation, equine therapy nutrition services, transportation door to door, individual therapy, group therapy and recreational activities throughout the day like sports, dance, gymnastics, and puppet shows(!).
Wait. Hold up a hot second. Did you catch that? Yeah, I bet you did. I bet you saw that speech and language services weren’t listed there. It isn’t listed because, unfortunately, there isn’t anyone on staff at Esperanza para todos who is trained in providing communication interventions. This means that, while the staff do their very best for each child, they just don’t have the support they need to help their students communicate. And this, of course, is where we come in. Our THF clinicians will be providing hands-on staff training through direct student services, as well as more “academic” trainings via lectures, with the goal of giving the staff a basic communication-intervention-skill-set that they can use well into the future. If we’re lucky enough to have an OT on the team, we will also be able to support their services in that domain as well.
As you might imagine, we’re, like, rilly excited about all of this. Heather has just sent out the application to all of our THF clinicians, both SLPs and OTs, and will be announcing the team on September 1st. Monthly meetings will begin in September, and travel dates will be selected soon. This, my friends, is the good, good stuff, and we can’t wait to share it all with you. Esperanza para todos . . . hope for all. Exactly.
This post is part of our series documenting our forthcoming international service trip to Baños, Ecuador. You can read our other entries here, and be sure to check back often for future updates.