In the San Quintin Valley, there are no children’s homes that accept children with disabilities. The nearest home that accepts children with special needs is almost three hours away and is well over capacity. As a result, Child Protective Services is often hesitant to intervene in cases of abuse or neglect involving a child with a disability, not having adequate placement options. It is for this reason that Eternal Anchor opened its residential program. We believe that all children deserve a safe, loving place to call home. We started with just one child in 2014 and we now care for 6 children full-time. We are currently building a second home, which will double our capacity. We are the only special needs children’s home that implements a family model in our home, hiring live-in houseparents. We also limit the capacity of each home to 6 residents, ensuring quality care for each child. We are passionate about creating homes, not institutions, for our children.
Every child deserves to have access to a quality education. Unfortunately, in high-poverty communities around the globe, public schools are often unwilling or unable to accept children with intellectual disabilities. The San Quintin Valley is no exception. With only one government special education school in the region, most children with special needs are left without any access to schooling. For that reason, Eternal Anchor started a special education school in 2015. Initially, the program had 4 students and operated out of a borrowed church Sunday School room. Today, we have 45 students and more than 20 local teachers offering quality, individualized educational services.
Early intervention is critical for positively changing the developmental trajectory of babies and toddlers with disabilities. The earlier a child is able to receive therapy services, the better their prognosis. As such, we prioritize the admission of babies and toddlers into our education program. Each morning, our buses pick them up from their homes. At school, their curriculum emphasizes learning through play and social/emotional development, and they receive physical, speech, and occupational therapy services. Parents are also trained so that they have the necessary tools to promote their child’s development at home. As our reputation grows in our community, more and more families are bringing their babies to our center. We hope to continue building the capacity of this program in order to meet the growing need for early intervention services in our community.
Adults living with severe physical and/or intellectual disabilities are among the most vulnerable, marginalized people in the world. Cultural stigmas and societal barriers often prevent them from being active, valued members of their communities. They often experience isolation and discrimination that prevents them from experiencing true friendship. In 2015, Eternal Anchor started a weekend club for adults with disabilities. Since then, it has grown and we now offer daily adult disability services to 16 adults. These services include life skills training, job training, socialization opportunities, and community service activities.
As part of Eternal Anchor’s holistic approach to providing disability services in our community, weekly therapeutic riding sessions are offered to children and adults with disabilities. The benefits of horse therapy are numerous. We facilitate exercises and activities that develop the fine and gross motor skills of our clients. They also learn about responsibility, self-confidence, assertiveness, and empathy as they work with and care for the horses. We are currently offering weekly riding sessions to 25 clients with our 2 horses.
Eternal Anchor’s community development department focuses on training families, partnering with local organizations and churches for inclusion and respite campaigns, and facilitating the access to quality medical, mobility, and therapy services for children and adults with disabilities. Each week, in-home consults are conducted to ensure all families in our community have the tools and equipment needed to provide a safe, nurturing home environment for their children. Eternal Anchor also partners with local and international medical, therapy, and education professionals for our annual Love Extended community outreach event. Through this campaign, we facilitate community trainings, equipment distribution, and family respite events.