EL SALVADOR: The Salesian “Walking Anew!” project highlighted in USAID’s Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives story booklet
The “Walking Anew!” project is empowering the next generation of medical rehabilitation practitioners to transform the lives of people with mobile disabilities.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Jan. 6, 2021) The Salesian “Walking Anew!” project in El Salvador was recently highlighted in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives story booklet featuring USAID faith and community-based partnerships. The project, which is facilitated by Don Bosco University in San Salvador, 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 runs from March 2017 to March 2021 and is empowering the next generation of medical rehabilitation practitioners to transform the lives of people with mobile disabilities. The project 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 pioneer innovative techniques to treat people with disabilities.
The project’s construction phase will develop a two-story building that will house new laboratories, practice centers, classrooms and a research center. The new building will incorporate solar electricity to improve energy use and reduce global carbon emissions.
The project will upgrade 50 percent of the current technology and install modern equipment for the four laboratories used to teach and apply rehabilitation techniques for people with disabilities. Additionally, labs focused on mobility, orthotics and prosthetics will be updated, and new labs will be built for podiatry and specialized practices.
In early 2020, USAID/ASHA Director Anne Dix, Ph.D., visited Don Bosco University and was impressed with the school’s leadership. The Prosthetics and Orthotics Technical Program has been the only accredited program in Latin America since the civil war in El Salvador (1980 to 1992). It has already trained visitors from El Salvador, Central and South America, Haiti, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Dix was most impressed with the progress on the new lab construction. She said, “The architectural and engineering firm supervising construction efforts is focused on energy conservation to manage temperature gradients, air flow and lighting. The construction plan also conserves existing tree cover in the vicinity. A set of ramps and a green roof have been incorporated into the staircase to achieve Americans with Disabilities (ADA) compliance, while also helping the building seamlessly blend into the existing landscape.”
The “Walking Anew!” project will also establish a research center for innovation within the parameters of educational and medical practice. The center will stimulate the exchange of knowledge and experience with scholarly and medical centers in the United States. It will 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. Professors, students, researchers and health personnel will have access to rehabilitation databases and digital library subscriptions.
Don Bosco University is one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in El Salvador, particularly in the technology sector. The university has nearly 6,000 students and maintains a strong link to the local employment system through research, technology transfer programs, continuing education courses and consultancy services. It offers degree programs in engineering, social sciences, humanities, economics, aeronautics and other fields.
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