Special Needs Students

Happy 4th of July everyone! I just wanted to give a quick update on the resources we were able to gather for the special needs school.

After a few e-mails, phone calls, and our post, the response was overwhelming with your generosity. Many of you that we contacted had already given a donation to our trip but did not hesitate to help us again. We decided to try and buy as many supplies in Peru as possible and have the things not available here shipped.

Jason and I had the challenge of deciding what would be most useful for the special needs center. We knew that coming in with tons of art supplies would be great, but wouldn’t last for that long. We decided to focus on the most unsanitary thing we worked with everyday. The mats and therapy tables in the physical therapy room were horrible. We have described them before but again, these mats were rotting, moldy and never cleaned. We estimate the mats to be at least 15 years old. Many of the students have fungus and parasites so laying them down on these mats everyday was spreading everything around. The university students had one box of gloves that they used for working the worse cases of fungus. We knew that the mats would greatly improve the quality of therapy for the students and university students.

We had some shopping to do, but we didn’t know where to start. Everything here is a mom and pop store, so finding what you need can be a guessing game. We went to an area of town on Puno street that had medical supplies. We figured we would start where they would know what a therapy mat was. After about 5 places, we came across one place that actually knew what we were talking about. We described what we wanted and the owner told us he would make the mats because they don’t just sell them. After talking over a price, we placed our order and crossed our fingers that we had just communicated exactly what we needed.

Next, we wanted to buy gloves and rubbing alcohol. While we were talking prices with another store owner, I spotted a therapy table that looked like it was straight out of the 1950´s. As I looked closer, I realized that it could move to sit up and the leg portion put down. The therapy room only had fixed tables and so right then and there, we saw the many possibilities for the new table. We tried it out and loved that it moved to give support where it was needed. We quickly added that to our list of things to buy. We walked out of the store feeling great that what we were buying items that would last and make therapy safer.

Lastly, we had many different people back in the states collecting money, buying supplies and printing off helpful documents. We looked everywhere in Peru but could not find exercise bands used for physical therapy. Jason contacted his old physical therapist Mike at Athletico and with no questions asked, told us we could pick up the box of supplies ASAP. Next, we wanted sensory toys for the kids to use. We could find some sensory stuff in Peru, but nothing like what we were used to in the states. We contacted our old work WDSRA (Western DuPage Special Recreation Association) and asked if there was anything lying around that we could use. In less than 24 hours, our good friends at WDSRA had e-mailed us valuable documents and collected money to go out and buy brand new sensory toys. 76 of them to be exact, on top of balls and other recreation equipment that the kids would love. Once again, we were in awe at the continuing support and generosity from everyone at WDSRA.

Then came the hardest part. Getting them to Peru. Thanks to my Padre Tom Summers for ¨being in the area¨ of Hoffman Estates and Carol Stream, we were able to pick up the items two days after our initial e-mail. Also, thanks to my Madre Cindy, the after school project is getting a huge box of art supplies and projects that they are going to love. Thanks to Alsterda Construction, the boxes were mailed express and dated to arrive on July 3rd.

Well….I sit here on July 4th and we have no boxes. I was told that it’s very typical for things to take much longer than expected to arrive, even with insurance and express mailings. So, we have come up with a solution. Jason and I are technically finished volunteering and have two bus tickets to Lima for July 5th. We will then be in Cuzco for two weeks, hiking the Inca Trail but, we have decided to back track back to Huancayo after the trail to be here to deliver the boxes of supplies to the school. There is no way we are missing the opportunity to see all our friends and family’s hard work light up the eyes of the kids.

So fear not, we will be here for the delivery of the supplies. Our Expand Peru Director is on high alert for the boxes and will hold them for us. We are so excited to return to Huancayo and see our kids once last time.

As for the mats, therapy table, gloves, alcohol and a box full of toys we purchased………Delivered and already in use by the students!

We picked up the mats yesterday and brought them to the school. They are beautiful and exactly what we ordered. When we brought the supplies in there were shrieks of joy from the university students. We plan to spend the day we return teaching the university students how to use the therapy bands and other supplies appropriately so they can continue after we leave.

We want to give a HUGE thanks to so many people for making all of this possible in such a short time. First and foremost, our parents. Tom & Tracy for your selfless donation and support always amazes us. Tom & Cindy Summers, for dropping everything to make sure that our donations were collected and mailed. I know you are busy taking care of our dogs and life in general but thank you for being so involved in everything. The staff of WDSRA. What can I say, we wouldn’t be here doing what we are doing without you. From day 1 you have been there for us and we can’t say thank you enough. We are spreading the magic of recreation because of you. We miss you all so much. Last but not least, Mike Zubliek of Athletico. Your donation will go a long way in not only helping the children live better and stronger lives, but in teaching therapy students new techniques.

New Update!
We have now left Huancayo with plans to return at the end of the month to give the 4 packages a chance to get there. We will keep you all updated on their progress. -Ash

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