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Teaching and Learning at a Costa Rican Mission for People with Disabilities

Friday, May 31, 2013
In May, Dr. Doug Ball, associate professor of Education, took a group of his students to Costa Rica, as part of Marymount University’s interdisciplinary service project with Manos Abiertas, a home for infants, children, young adults, and adults who have severe disabilities and have been abandoned by their families.

Marymount’s connection with Manos Abiertas began several years ago, when the university’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) candidates started providing physical therapy for the residents of the community as a capstone service project. It soon became apparent that Marymount could offer other types of assistance, as well. Now nursing and health care management students, as well as teachers-in-training, are all adding their expertise.

The education students helped the residents with daily life skills, taught classes, and led craft projects during their sojourn at Manos Abiertas.

Nursing students were at Manos Abiertas with the education students, and they continued the process of assessing patients and developing a plan of care that includes dental care. The areas of expertise are being coordinated to provide inter-professional care plans for the residents. Ultimately each resident will have a care plan that integrates PT, health care, and education.

Dr. Ball kept a blog during the trip and noted that his students benefited as much as the residents. He wrote, “They taught us patience because they were patient with us. They taught us about persistence. They taught us to wait and watch. They taught us not to judge because they are not judgmental. They taught us learning has no limits if we teach with our hearts. Most of all we felt humbled by their gracious warmth....and what they taught us about being human.”

Read the blog and see more photos.