International Disability Work: LEND Trainees and Faculty Volunteer at School in Nicaragua

LEND and faculty in NicaraguaSeveral LEND students and faculty members have taken their knowledge on disability and health worldwide. In February 2013, LEND trainee, Emily Johnson, and former trainee Rosie McAuley joined LEND faculty Dr. Sandi Grether and Dr. Susan Wiley along with several others from CCHMC to volunteer for a 7-day experience in Nicaragua.
Volunteers financed their own travel, room, and board. The CCHMC team provided medical consultation for a school in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua. Children from the school and surrounding community were seen and treated by members of the medical team. Speech and Language Pathologists as well as psychologists provided behavior management consultations for teachers in the school’s classrooms. Patty Norton, an RN at CCHMC, facilitated equine therapy with the students and trained other therapists at the school to continue carrying out this remarkable treatment.


Upon returning from Nicaragua, current trainee Emily Johnson immediately applied her experience on international disability work to co-lead an AUCD Webinar for Early Career Professionals. “Around the World in 50 Minutes: A Look into International Disability Work” is available as an archived webinar. Johnson has also written a blog entitled “Quality over Quantity” as part of the Global Autism Project. Johnson seeks additional opportunities to provide sustainable, community-focused services for children with disabilities in international countries. She emphasizes the importance of small, meaningful changes that will last longafter volunteers board the plane back to the United States. The CCHMC team has tentative plans to return to Nicaragua and provide additional consultation services next year. Johnson will be traveling to Indonesia in July to facilitate international disability work in that region.

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