Pool party delights and teaches — July 26, 2019

Emanuel and several other children went to a pool party with Friends of Cozumel volunteers. They played games, laughed and shouted, and had snacks. It looked and sounded like a pool party, but in reality it was water therapy for children with autism. 

FOC has an ongoing relationship of support with Centro de Autismo and FOC volunteers enjoyed working with their students yesterday. Spending time in the beautiful pool at the home of FOC volunteers Mike and Hettie was also a welcome respite from the heat.

The water therapy session was a step forward for two new friends, seven year old Emanuel and FOC volunteer McKala. 

FOC volunteers (from left) Liz and MaKala make friends with Emanuel and Jael.

Emanuel didn’t start school with other kids because he didn’t speak. He had some limited therapy traveling to Playa del Carmen on the mainland, but needed something more. Friends of Cozumel provided a “beca” or scholarship so that Manuel could participate in therapy several times a week without having to travel. Thanks to the therapists and programs at Centro de Autismo in Cozumel, he’s now speaking and attending a regular school. His mother Marta says the programs have also helped her learn a great deal about how to parent a child with autism.

MaKala from Texas couldn’t have been happier to meet Emanuel. She’s a recent college graduate and a first-time volunteer for Friends of Cozumel. She leaped at the opportunity to make a friend and also practice the adaptive aquatics skills learned during her study of recreational therapy in college. 

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard that this was one of our volunteer opportunities,” she said. “I was so excited.”

In the process, the children had a great time and event taught the volunteers a thing or two.

“It was nice to hear from parents how much FOC has helped. And the language barrier didn’t stop the therapy the kids got today,” said McKala. “I even learned the Spanish words for ‘jump’ and ‘take me there.’”

To learn more about Centro de Autismo, go to https://www.facebook.com/Centro-de-Autismo-Cozumel-1506168346267706/

~ Phyllis from Nebraska

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