I am a Professor and Clinical Instructor of Occupational Therapy in Carson, CA. This is my second time in Mazatlan providing community service with several of my students working with PUSH International. As an OT working for over 16 years, I can honestly say that the experience is heart warming and transformative. The interaction with the children and adults were different both times but they were also the same, in that, the incredible impact of giving of yourself has such huge lasting effect on both you and the individuals your serving.
I have one word to sum up my experience with PUSH International – unselfish. The people working in the United States and in Mexico, work tirelessly. They do not make money providing services but they do make an incredible impact on so many lives of the families in Mexico and the volunteers who help PUSH International. My role: PUSH International asked me to instruct the mothers at the daycare center so that the mothers would be better informed of movement patterns of typically developing children with hope that they could apply that information to their own child and the other children at the daycare center who have a disability. One needs to understand the typical patterns of movement before understanding the influence of a neurological impairment on movement as seen with children with cerebral palsy. Most of the mothers have not been educated beyond elementary school but their enthusiasm to learn and apply the information was overwhelming for this professor. They are eager to help; they just need to be educated. The group, including the mothers in the daycare center, the owners of the daycare center and 4 students, worked with each other to understand the movement issues that cause functional problems for the kids, such as positioning themselves at a table for eating and eating itself. The mothers and students worked side-by-side helping each other out. It was an incredible experience to have cross-cultural experiences for all while attempting to apply newly learned concepts. The care and passion that the mothers have was overwhelming, particularly since they are not as blessed as we are with opportunities. They lack the education and the equipment resources (kid tables for kids to sit at versus laying on the floor or mat like they presently do) that we Americans have access to so easily, but they have a creative problem solving spirit that was admirable from my perspective. After instructions and practice in the daycare center, kitchen area and out in the foyers of the daycare center, the group went into the homes of some of the people with disabilities. We evaluated the accessibility of the home for the person with the disability but also the care providers who often hurt themselves while caring for a person with disabilities. The coordinator and myself worked out various issues after listening to the family’s concerns. Upon our return, the coordinator, Jeff Lair, sent an email with a report on the status of the home modifications and construction provided to many of the families. Most of the work had been done but the need for money to continue to support the program become obvious. Piece milling is common but some of it can be unsafe, thus the need for more money to assist in the safe construction of equipment, not only for the home but in the daycare center, too. Overall: I am honored to have worked with them and will continue to work with this group due to their integrity and overwhelming belief in the need to help others. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 253-879-2661. Sincerely, Marge Luthman, MS, OTR/L Clinical Assistant Professor School of Occupational Therapy University of Puget Sound 1500 Warner Ave Tacoma, WA 98416 firstname.lastname@example.org