Our 2018 OT student cohort shares stories

Please enjoy this post from our students, accompanied by photos of them working with our professional team members!

The “big picture” from a second floor balcony

Hola from Lima!

We’re the ten occupational therapy students from St. Catherine University who are partnering with Eleanore’s Project this week. Today has been our third day with the project, and we feel like we have already learned so much! It’s been great to be mentored by veteran occupational therapists and assistive technology professionals and to get hands-on experience in such a beautiful setting.

Alan and students work on a frame

Today, we partnered with some amazing families to help position their kids in both night positioning systems and wheelchairs. We want to share some of these stories with you.

One teenage boy received his second Eleanore’s Project chair today. He received his first chair through Eleanore’s Project 9 years ago. Three years ago, he grew out of it and received a non-customized chair in his community many hours away from Lima. Last year his mother found us on the internet through the sticker on his outgrown chair. She brought him to Yancana Huasy in Lima to get new customized wheelchair because he experienced so much success from the first one. After being fully fit for the chair, his mom expressed her gratitude. She said that for the past 3 years, she was unable to bring her son out of the house because the standard chair was inaccessible in the mountainous region where they live. Now with the new chair, she is hoping that he will be able to go out to the community with her and will be able to move around the house with her as well. She seemed so excited that he would no longer be lonely but could spend time with people. His laugh could be heard throughout the clinic after being placed in his chair and being rolled around the room. She also went home with new knowledge about night positioning that will help her son stay in good shape!

Sewing straps, cushion covers and so on is often part of the process

Group effort on finishing the frame

Another child received his first chair today! He was a toddler who spent his time either lying down or being held by his mother. If he was sitting down, he was seated in a car seat. He would use all of his energy just to maintain his position and would cry all the time. When he got into the chair for the first time, you could see the transformation. He was calm and seemed immediately comfortable. His mom expressed gratitude to the Eleanore’s Project team. She explained that she always felt that she had bad luck, but with this chair, she felt blessed. She could envision the changes it would make for her family. Instead of the child always being held, he could face his family and friends and could actually play!

A third girl from today had very complex needs. This was her first chair ever. She was in pain every time someone would touch or move her until she knew that they were going to stop moving her. After lots of trial and error with custom seating and nighttime positioning, we were finally able to craft a chair where she did not express pain or tears. This was a huge accomplishment! It was incredible to see both the before and after.

By the end of the week students have learned a lot about “wheelchair wrenching”

Overall, this has been an amazing experience for our team! Our OT mentors have pointed out that seating a child all in one day isn’t something that can be experienced in the states.  At home the process typically takes months. The insight that our mentors have offered and the difference this project makes in the kids’ lives is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we will never forget!

St. Kate’s OT Students, 2018