Monday, July 30, 2012

Working with the Community of Mindo

We simply loved working with the community in Mindo and those others nearby who joined us. Over two days, we exchanged information, and learned from one another how to create adaptations that made a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.

Our information exchange starts with making friends!

Our volunteers share ideas with local teachers.

We have so much in common.  We all have the care, respect, and desire to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.  The teachers share a commitment to the students, providing the best education possible with the resources they have. The therapists apply their special skills to improve and increase the abilities of people they serve.  

Most important, we all have ideas for how to turn simple, affordable materials into adaptations that make it possible for someone to live more independently, be more included in school activities, and communicate with more ease and understanding.



Everyone makes new adaptations from materials available in the local markets.

Unique ideas come out of our collaboration, like this simple finger exercise for physical therapy.

A local man demonstrates how using an adapted spoon and slant board makes it easier for him to eat.
This teacher demonstrates how she made a visual schedule with hand drawings that clip on.

This school psychologist created a maze with a box top, bottle caps, and beans. 

Creating this simple counting activity adds significantly to the sparse materials available in the classrooms.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mindo and more

First let me start by saying that Mindo is the most delightful place in the world. The fauna and birds are breathtaking. And our hotel is right in the middle of it all. What a great environment to get in the mood for our first two-day workshop. It worked ! The workshops, once people started making thing,s was full of creativity and sharing. The parents and families, the community members, the Ithaca College students and CITTI team brimmed with ideas and creations. There was noise and laughter, sharing and adaptations galore. What a great way to lead into my birthday. Yes I am 39 again and today the day started at 5:30 AM which if anyone knows me , knows that I dont do mornings - This was totally different though - went bĂ­rding with friends in the Mindo canopy and saw birds and plants that were fantastic including tucans and questrals and more. Others who went with us would know exactly what type of tucans and questrals they were, but for me I was just glad to see them. Then I went swimming for the first time in forever and now we are off for birthday lunch ! Let me reccomend Mindo for anyones´39th birthday

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Today´s workshop led to the creation of many amazing adaptations and inventions, but my favorite was ¨Kerplunk.¨

During our brainstorm session, parents asked about ways they could interact and bond with their child with a disability--a game or some activity they could do together.

I was determined to find a game that could match the developmental and physical abilities and be a meaningful activity for a parent and child.  An exciting game about cause and effect seemed like a good fit!

Looking around at the materials, I chose a soda bottle, skewers (or, for the second version, I used popsicle sticks), and made the ¨marbles¨out of scraps of foam. To assemble the juego (game) de ¨Kerplunk¨, I cut off the top of the soda bottle and poked holes in the sides of the bottle to insert the sticks.  It took a surprising amount of trial and error: breaking the skewers so they were the appropriate length para la botella led to a lot of splinter opportunities for me, which is why I switched to popsicle sticks for the assembly of ¨Kerplunk 2.0.¨

Por fin, ¨Kerplunk¨was ready and I got to play with a certain special gentleman--it made my day.  Due to the language barrier, I had to mine how to play and my exaggerated facial expressions cracked both of us up.  He kept playing all afternoon, demonstrating to the other attendees and by the time the workshop ended, I saw that two other sets had been created as well.

It was truly amazing to see such an active exchange of information and I can´t wait to see what I learn at the next one!

--Andrea Muffly


We visited a local school during recess yesterday.  Of course, many of the kids were playing soccer.  But there were also a large number of bosy playing with tops.  They´d start wrapping a string around them from the tip up and then throw them down so the string would unwind and spin them.  It was really cool to watch. Then, they would pick them up and have them spin in their hands or use the string to loop around the tips and toss them in the air.

There were also a lot of people just running around screaming. It seemed like there was less supervision and fewer overprotective adults around and I thought it was refreshing to see kids being kids and learning to interact on their own.

-Renee Metzger

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Before we begin our information exchanges, it´s necessary to gather the materials we´ll use from local markets.  Paper, pens, sheet protectors, scissors.  Popsicle sticks and sheets of foam.  At the ferreteria (which is the hardware store, not a place to get a whole bunch of ferrets), we get wooden dowels for head wands, hooks for reachers, rope to make a contraption which helps you put on a sock without bending down, and duct tape for...pretty much everything.

Another crucial material: cardboard, for making inclined boards which can prop up books and other items for better visual access.  This, we have to scrounge for--going from store to store asking for empty boxes or cardboard sheets.  It takes some persistence, but can usually be done.

And, last but definitely not least...the all-important empty shoeboxes.  Perfect recepticle for the supplies we station at each work table, but also the foundation of activity boxes: self-contained educational toys which help students with and without disabilities to practice key concepts like sorting, matching, counting, and patterning.  A person always thinks of a shoebox as an easy thing to get...until one needs to go to another country and procure about 50 of them.

Sunday evening, our in-country director, Gladys, made the rounds, visiting every open shoestore within several blocks of our hotel and sweetly beseeching the owner for boxes.  It was surprisingly hard going: most shopkeepers nodded attentively as she described the need, but firmly insisted that the shoes went with the box.  She managed to get us enough to at least make some basic models, and we strategized about how to actually make shoeboxes from the cardboard slabs we´d managed to get from a supermarket.  If we could make a positioning device that usually cost upwards of $200 out of cardboard, we figured, a box would be cake.

Armed thus with a perfectly defensible back-up plan, we went to bed and awaited the bus in the morning.  As is not, er, completely uncommon, the bus was two hours late.  More just to have something to do than because we really thought we´d get anywhere, two of us hit the town on Shoebox Quest 2.0, and discovered, two doors down from the hotel, an incredibly sweet shopkeeper who was delighted to give us as many empty shoeboxes as we could possibly desire.

Things never go exactly as expected.  But they always seem to have some way of working out.
-Sonia Thacher

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Morning: Quito To Mindo

We gathered in the lobby of the Hotel Real Audencia...

while the bus made its way towards us
to take us to Mindo.

CITTI Project 2012

Welcome to the CITTI Project, 2012! 

We arrived in Quito on Saturday for a two week information exchange. Today we began our work with one of two new communities we are visiting. Here in the cloud forest of Mindo, we are partnering with local schools and community organizations to share information and offer workshops on creating adaptations to increase independence, communication, and curricular access for children and adults with disabilities.

The CITTI Project is a small but mighty group of volunteers who have professional or personal interest in the lives of people with disabilities.  We address the need for assistive technology, in environments where resources are very limited.  

Our backgrounds vary and include special educators, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, parents, and adults with disabilities. Each member of our team is a committed, creative individual.  This is the first year we have partnered with Ithaca College and are providing a Study Abroad experience for university students.  

Our volunteers work hard to prepare for our workshops.  There are materials to purchase, and models to make for replication by the participants.  It´s a lot of work but also a unique and fun experience.

We hope you will visit our blog to follow our adventure!