The 30 or so children who come to the Centro de Autismo in Cozumel have a new place to call their own. It may look simply like a cool place to play, but it also extends the therapeutic options for children living with autism.
Autism affects brain development and may cause difficulties in social interaction, motor coordination and communication. Therapy often includes behavioral work in social and play skills and opportunities to interact with peers. And what better place to conduct that therapy than in a colorful setting of swings, slides, and climbing structures ripe for exploration and interaction?
A playground set was recently donated to Centro de Autismo through Blue Skyes Over Autism, a nonprofit organization in Houston, Texas that provides support and education to families living with autism. But before the playground could be put to use, a safe space had to be created for it. And it was going to require a lot of hot, sweaty work.
That’s where Friends of Cozumel and 10 youth volunteers from Vida Abundante church were able to help. They did all the work by hand, yanking weeds out by the roots and spreading gravel with shovels. It was all part of a goal to continue involvement by local youth and adults in serving others through FOC projects.
After the outdoor space was cleared of rocks, weeds and debris, the surface was smoothed out. Then a fine gravel base was spread under the playground equipment. Plants were trimmed and soon the area looked like a well-manicured park.
“It’s a true joy to see the willingness of these youth to assist in a project like this,” said Larry, a volunteer and member of the FOC leadership team. “I hope that one day they can also learn about autism and the impact it has on local families.”
Lee, a returning FOC volunteer from Alabama, did his share of hauling rock, too.
“It was hard work but the rewards are worth every minute of it,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be able to serve the people and these children on this beautiful island. Thank you Friends of Cozumel for this wonderful opportunity.”
“Enter into childrens’ play and you will find the place where their minds, hearts, and souls meet. ” ~ Virginia Axline