Visiting Casita Corazon (Heart House) yesterday reminded me of the African proverb Hillary Clinton popularized in the 90’s “It takes a village to raise a child.” The Casita was bustling with various activities (physical therapy for youth with disabilities, sensory stimulation activities, games/basketball, pumpkin decorating project) focused on the needs of special children ages 3-23. Carrie’s Heart staff, parents as well as visiting and resident volunteers work as a team. Pictured from left: Luis (Carrie’s Heart therapist), Jose (19 year old youth with multiple disabilities), Lee and Dianne Wilson (visiting volunteers) and Lupe (Casita Corazon caretaker).
Lee and Dianne are here for an extended stay this fall. They contacted Friends of Cozumel to inquire about volunteer opportunities to combine with their love of diving. The Wilsons have personal experience and support mission work with women and children in Africa. They were searching for ways to serve children along with their special interest in benefitting people with disabilities so volunteering at Casita Corazon seemed like a perfect match. Lee and Dianne assist with therapy and lead activities with the children and parents three mornings a week. The Wilsons are also involved with Diveheart and looking forward to participating with a team coming to the island in early December. Diveheart is a non-profit foundation that provides educational scuba diving and snorkeling experiences for children, adults, and veterans with disabilities. Click here to learn more about Diveheart.
Casita Corazon News and Photos
Luis provides therapy for Juan Diego, age 23, who loves looking at Christmas lights. Carrie Conn, Founder of Carrie’s Heart, is leading a new model for working with children with disabilities. Employees and families are being asked to stretch outside their comfort zone to transition from the traditional one on one (therapist and child) method typical in Mexico to a team approach using volunteers.
Leticia (Juan Diego’s mother right) helps her granddaughter, Hanna, decorate a pumpkin. Leticia and the other parents are beginning to volunteer their time while at the Casita by cleaning, putting away supplies and doing educational, stimulation activities with kids. They are also being trained to assist with all the youth (not just their own child). Beginning in 2013, parent volunteers will participate in a rotation schedule to allow for respite for the moms. They will be able to drop off their children and pick them up some days and be scheduled to assist on other days.
Luisito (brother of Jose) decorates a pumpkin with Lee. Luisito’s life has significantly changed this school year as he is no longer confined to stay at home all day, everyday. His mother takes him to the Casita on the Collectivo (public van transportation) daily before she goes to work and picks him up early evening after work. His mornings and lunch are spent at the Casita in activities with other children. Then he walks a few blocks with Lupe (caretaker) and two of her children to attend the CAM School for children with disabilities in the afternoon.
Hanna and Luisito play with a learning computer. After two months participating at the Casita and attending CAM, we see a HUGE difference in Luisito. He’s learning to interact with other children, making friends, communicating more and is much calmer. At age 12 his world has opened up to include opportunities beyond his home and immediate family.