Saturday, August 10, 2013

The end (New Life Nicaragua)

As I sit here leisurely, reminiscing over the last 10 days, I can hardly wrap my mind around the fact that I will be in California tonight. We have been extremely busy, yet somehow completely relaxed during this trip. We are running on "Nica" time. There's no need to hurry or rush; no pressing matters that need attending to- just time to enjoy creation and others. inconveniently, the sound of jackhammers coming from the Buzbee's demolished kitchen makes for a less than relaxing atmosphere! Yesterday we spent our time at New Life Nicaragua, an orphanage run by Tim and Chris Bagwell. There were ten children there, ranging from 4 months to 5 years. All of these children were either malnourished or abandoned, and have an additional disability, like drug addiction, genetic disorders, and speech/language impairments. The SLP and the rec therapist spent the morning running 20 minute "assessments" with some of the children. The SLP worked with the oldest children and the rec therapist worked with the youngest. One music therapist co-implemented with the rec therapist and the other one loved on babies. We had the best brick oven pizza for lunch (including dessert) and then worked with the Bagwell's youngest daughers, who both have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Mercedes is 4 and Gabriella is 3, and both are so incredibly precious. Mercedes has a lot of speech issues and Gabriella had slower processing time. We did 50 minutes of music with the two of them to make them feel comfortable. We then turned Mercedes over to the speech therapist and Gabriella to the rec therapist. The music therapists spent the rest of the time kissing babies. We begin our treck back to the US in about 4 hours. We'll see you all on the flip side.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

We spent our second day at Colegio Cristiano Havila. We saw the preschoolers this morning for 30 minutes because of a break that they have in the middle of their morning. Four preschoolers were with the MT's and four were with the rec therapist and the SLP. We then switched groups for the next half hour. After an hour break, we split the first graders up into one group of four and one group of five, and rotated them after an hour. The first group of first graders was very shy in music and needed a lot of encouragement to come out of their shell. The second group was crazy, and had ZERO impulse control. They finally calmed down after a song called "Crocodile Shop" which involved rhythm sticks and a steady beat. The repetition helped to regulate them, which then allowed us to actually work with them and maintain our sanity. The rec therapist and the SLP did many of the same activities as yesterday, including planking, bouncing on the exercise ball, beading, playing "headband," having children follow directions, and describing picture cards. After a wonderful lunch, we tackled the sixth graders. There were only seven of them, so we had one group of three and one group of four. They were very well behaved and (most) were receptive to what we had planned. The most interesting observation made of this group was poor midline meeting. The rec therapist discovered that these students had NEVER completed a puzzle before, and so she had the opportunity to introduce something new to them. At 3PM this afternoon, we had a training and informational meeting with all of the teachers and the director of the school. Everyone was able to share a little bit about what they did with the kids, how the teachers can implement some of these strategies in their classroom, and presented donations to the school. They were all very receptive to us and thanked us for being there. We were equally as grateful, because (as I reminded them) our purpose is meaningless if what we started with these kids is not continued once we leave. Tomorrow we get to hang out with babies, which makes all of us excited! Catch ya tomorrow! Here are some photos from today:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Colegio Cristiano Havilah

Today we went to a second school entitled Colegio Cristiano Havilah. We learned that the word "havilah" is from Genesis 2:11-12. Havilah is a place in the garden of Eden where gold and jewels are found. This is representative of how the children at this school are viewed; as precious jewels. The younger children attend school in the morning (Preschool- 3rd grade), while the older children attend in the afternoon (4th-6th grade). The director of the school had targeted children listed before we arrived, and discussed what types of issues these students were experiencing, including social/emotional and behavior issues. We were able to spend an hour with each group seen today. In the morning, the music therapists had the second graders, while the rec therapist and the SLP worked with the third graders. We then switched groups. Lunch was at the director's house (What a sweet lady!). The afternoon included the fourth and fifth graders, rotated after an hour between therapists, like the morning. The music therapists spent the majority of the hour sessions working on impulse control, expression of emotions, taking turns, and following directions. The rec therapist worked on exercises the kids can do to get out some energy to assist in focusing during class, including planking, wheelbarrow races, and bouncing on the exercise ball. She also did some beading and gave chewing tubes to students that need that oral stimulation to focus. The SLP did group work today and discussed some of the student's favorite things. Tomorrow, we will see the preschoolers, first graders, and sixth graders. We will also have an hour training for the teachers in the afternoon. Can't wait to update y'all! This evening was spent talking with one of the missionaries down here about his testimony and life story. Feeling blessed to meet others that are living a life of service for these children.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

La Esparanza and Casa Havilah

What a day! After breakfast, we loaded up the van and headed to a school entitled La Esparanza. This school was originally located in the city dump, and educated the children living there. However, the Spanish government created a project (that was both a blessing and a curse to the school) that was going to renovate the land. This required all of the families that were living there to relocate, and the missionaries that were running the school were told they had two days to take whatever they needed, because the school was being demolished. The Lord provided a new building for them, and they now educate about 80 preschoolers (ages 2-6) from 8 am to 11:30 am everyday (with the exception of the two year olds who leave at 10:00). The music therapists took the three classrooms of kids and divided them in half, making six groups that completed a half hour music session in rotation. The SLP talked to the teachers and identified the students that had speech/language issues, including children that had no language and those with stutters. The rec therapist also worked with identified children, either through teacher recommendation or music therapist observations during group instruction. The morning was simply exhausting! I have no idea how three women corral 80 preschoolers, but somehow they survive. We donated instruments, school supplies, and therapy tools to them before we left. After the preschoolers leave La Esparanza, elementary students and high school students come for an after school tutoring program. We did not see these children. Instead, after lunch, we went to the safe home for girls, called Casa Havilah. There are currently seven girls that live there that have been removed from their homes for various reasons. These girls range from ages 9-13. We broke the ice by playing La Bamba on the guitar, while most girls joined in singing. We taught them the Cupid Shuffle. Trish implemented a group game to get to know the girls, including their favorite musical artist, favorite color, favorite animal, and their favorite feature about each girl in the house. This also gave the house mom, Jenny, an opportunity to compliment the girls and love on them with words of affirmation. The girls then split into two groups; the older girls had tutoring while the three youngest stayed with us. We did a lyric analysis experience to the song "Dices" by Selena Gomez. The lyrics to this song are about knowing who you are, knowing that you are wonderful just the way you are, and that changing for others is unnecessary. The three younger girls got it, had some great discussion, and REALLY enjoyed the song. They probably played it at least 5 or 6 times. Eventually, they switched with the older girls, and we did the experience again with less success. They were not as open to the song lyric discussion, but one of the girls seemed to enjoy the song. The oldest girl thought she was too cool for it :p We played the human knot game with them and the made some laynards with rex lace until it was time to leave. Our evening was spent cooling off in the pool, eating, blogging and crashing at 8 pm. We'll check in with you tomorrow about our time at another school for children from preschool-6th grade.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Buzbees and Casa Robles

We had two locations to work with today, The Buzbee family and Casa Havilah.  The children in the Buzbee family have been adopted from extenuating circumstances including abandonment, abuse, and negative biological home lives.  With these adolescents, we worked on expression of feelings, sensory needs, and identifying techniques to assist them to be more successful in school and in their social and emotional interactions.   There are six children ranging from 13 to 17, including a set of twins and their sister.  The children were receptive to our ideas and techniques that would assist them.  We also shared with the mother ideas that we shared with the children.

In the afternoon, we visited a rescue home.  Casa Havilah is a rescue home for 6 boys and one girl, ages 6 to 14, who have been abused or have observed abuse.  This was a VERY active group of children.  We did a variety of activities including music and movement, turn taking, sensory, and communication.  The SLP took two children aside due to identified needs in the area of speech and communication.  The team spent time talking with the house parents about what we observed and provided information and ideas to help the children be more successful both at home and at school.

Tomorrow, we are looking forward to working with a rescue home for girls, a preschool with 80 children, and possibly some of the 130 children that attend an after school program for tutoring.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Weekend

Because schools and institutions do not have students/visitors on the weekends, we have had some down time these past two days. We spent time on Saturday meeting new people and visiting with other Americans in Nicaragua. Yesterday, we met a missionary family from Florida that moved here about 5 weeks ago and is helping to build homes in the area. They hope to bring down families to share in the mission field and enjoy the beauty of the Nicaraguan coast. They have five children they are homeschooling, ages 13, 10, 6, 3 and 10 months. We met a retired nurse that takes time to enjoy the sunset every evening. We met the man that created the educational curriculum for the state of California in the 1960's. We ran into a man with hearing impairments that told us about a deaf school in Managua that had made international news. Today, we traveled from Limon 2 (dos) to Los Cedros, Nicaragua (about a four hour drive). An ex-marine named Brian who moved to Nicaragua for the awesome waves to surf drove us. It was a pleasure getting to know about him and his story. We arrived at the Buzbee's compound around 2 pm and spent some time swimming. Someone also made a new friend. We are looking forward to the week ahead and the interactions we will experience with some odd 700 children. :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sor Maria Romero- Friday, August 2nd

What did you wake up to on Friday? We woke up to the ocean.
No, I’m not on vacation but God’s beauty can be found in any situation. Even a sleep-deprived, humid one. We were up bright and early, (thanks to Bessie’s alarm clock still running on California time), and then up again to a wonderful breakfast on the ocean. Literally. We hit the road for the hour drive to Rivas to a school called Sor Maria Romero. This school is labeled a “special school” and serves children from the entire state of Rivas with special needs. There were four classrooms at this school; one for the young children (preschool/early elementary), one for later elementary kids, one for teenagers that were deaf/Hard of Hearing, and one for older students (high schoolers). These students had various disabilities, including Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Cognitive Impairments, and (of course), deafness. When we arrived, the students were heading out to PE, so we were able to observe and interact with them for about a half hour prior to delving into therapy. We were able to assess motor skills, language skills, social skills, and established relations amongst the children. The music therapists started with three older elementary students, while the rec therapist and the SLP started with the little ones. After a half hour, we switched classrooms. We tried incorporating various musical experiences in a short amount of time to show the classroom teachers what they can do with their students. We did movement, following directions, labeling body parts, identifying colors, vocab building (animals and fruits), instrument playing, turn taking, and speech. The students then took a fifteen minute “breakfast” break. When they returned, we spent some time with the deaf teens, which was Amy and Bessie’s ABSOLUTE favorite part. Spanish sign language is very similar to ASL, so we were able to communicate between our language barriers. We strummed the guitar while the students set their hands on the body of the guitar. We then played the drums, feeling their vibrations. Lastly, we spent some unstructured time with the three high school students, two of whom had DS, and one student with Cerebral Palsy that was in a wheel chair. The girl with DS was a self proclaimed rockstar, took the guitar and promptly started singing “Twinkle Twinkle” in Spanish. The students only attend school for five hours a day, so they departed at noon. We have since had lunch, visited crazy artistic Americans that live in Nicaragua, and wrote a blog post.