A DREAM COMES TRUE
NEW SCHOOL AND REHAB CENTER FOR CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
By Ken Tellerman M.D.
Our week in Atima this year marked another significant milestone for OCHO and the village. We signed an agreement with the Atima municipality which will begin the construction of a school and rehabilitation center for children with developmental disabilities. This will be the only center of its kind in Honduras.
OCHO successfully raised the required funds this past year and will share the cost of construction in an 80%-20% partnership with the Atima mayor’s office along with the teachers and parent’s association at the current CRIC-Atima, “Abriendo puertas.” The village of Atima has dedicated the land for the school next to the new medical center. Teachers will receive ongoing training by our child development team and arrangements are in progress to bring several teachers to Baltimore for more intensive instruction.
The project began several years ago when OCHO’s team of child development experts began providing professional support to teachers in Atima who had created a free after- hours program for disabled children named Abriendo Puertas (Opening Doors). Children attending Abriendo Puertas and who will be served at the new school have a wide variety of medical problems including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Down syndrome and other severe developmental delays from multiple causes.
The new school will deliver educational and rehabilitative services to several hundred children in the region. Construction will be begin this year and will include classroom and therapy space, a specially designed bathroom and kitchen to teach children activities of daily living and a hydrotherapy pool. The next phase of construction will include dormitory space for out of town families who will be taught how to provide special care for their children. This school is certain to provide Atima with well-deserved recognition throughout Honduras as a progressive community that is dedicated to continuously addressing and improving the lives of its people.
The program was launched with a ceremony that included a signing of the agreement between the mayor, special educational teachers and OCHO. Festivities included performances by a mariachi band and young Honduran folk dancers. The ceremony culminated in the laying of bricks at the site of the new school.
The new school marks another chapter in the footprint that OCHO has left in the region and is the result of partnership between special needs advocates from Atima and OCHO.