EL SALVADOR: The USAID-funded “Walking Anew!” project supports research and innovation for people with mobile disabilities
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco University in San Salvador, El Salvador, is empowering the next generation of medical rehabilitation practitioners to transform the lives of people with mobile disabilities through its “Walking Anew!” project. This project was made possible thanks to a grant from USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program secured by Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The “Walking Anew!” project, which runs from March 2017 to March 2021, is expanding and upgrading the facilities at Don Bosco University’s School of Rehabilitation Science as well as the equipment used to train medical rehabilitation professionals. The project will also pioneer innovative techniques in the treatment of people with disabilities.
Don Bosco University is one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the country, particularly in the technical and technological sector. The university has close to 6,000 students enrolled and maintains a strong link to the local employment sector through research, technology transfer programs, continuing education courses and consultancy services. Degree programs are offered in engineering, social sciences, humanities, economics, technology and aeronautics, among others.
In April 2019, Don Bosco University celebrated its 59th graduation ceremony with 829 students receiving their professional master’s, bachelor’s, engineering, technical or teaching degrees. Of these students, 30, including 19 women, graduated from the orthotics and prosthetics departments.
“We are thankful to USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad for providing the funding for the ‘Walking Anew!’ project,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “Children living in poverty with a disability are even less likely to attend school when compared to their peers. Youth with disabilities have the same ability to achieve as their peers if given the opportunity. Projects like this help pave the way for advanced research, learning and innovation that helps aid inclusion of people with disabilities.”
To date, the “Walking Anew!” project’s construction phase for the facility at Don Bosco University is in process. Included in this phase is the development of a two-story building that will hold new and expanded laboratories, practice centers and classrooms on the first floor and a new Applied Research Center for collaboration with the U.S. on the second floor. The new building will implement photovoltaic electricity to promote conscientious energy use and reduce carbon emissions at the global level and will be constructed under LEED parameters of the U.S. Green Building Council.
The project will also entail upgrading 50 percent of the current technology used and acquiring new and modern equipment for the four SRS laboratories that teach and apply rehabilitation techniques for people with disabilities. The laboratories to be updated include an existing mobility laboratory, an existing orthotics and prosthetics laboratory, a new podiatry laboratory and a new specialized practice laboratory.
In order to learn more about the gait analysis equipment that Don Bosco University identified for use from Research & Performance Biomechanics, two teachers from the faculty of rehabilitation sciences participated in a walking instrument analysis course using the equipment that the company distributes.
The “Walking Anew!” project will also establish an Applied Research Center for innovation within the parameters of educational and medical practice. The Applied Research Center will stimulate and enable the exchange of knowledge and experience with scholarly and medical centers in the U.S. It will also include an information center dedicated to researching health issues specifically related to the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, orthotics and prosthetics, material science, physical medicine and medical innovations across Central and South America. Subscriptions to databases and digital libraries related to rehabilitation will be available for the use of professors, students, researchers and health personnel. Center users will also have access to medical magazines edited in the U.S.
Finally, with the goal of broadening the reach of the technological and educational advancements for the treatment of people with disabilities generated at Don Bosco University, the “Walking Anew!” project will acquire new technology to offer online graduate and specialized program educational services across the broader region of Latin America and worldwide.