Orthotic Care Services recently sponsored Capernaum's Got Talent! show! Capernaum works closely with Orthotic Care Services. Scott Hinshon (owner) comes to our clinics and gives our children and families the utmost of care, not to mention beautifully designed and effective orthotics!
Scott was a curious and creative kid. He frequently questioned how to make things better. Some of his inventions include a golf ball retriever, an oversized garbage bag for raking leaves, and something he called the "Piecemaker" – a pizza cutter that can be stamped to make all equally-sized pieces (he and his siblings always fought for the largest pieces – problem solved!).
After high-school, he was introduced to the field of orthotics by his aunt. This was a natural fit. Scott always liked helping people and he could use his creativity to build something that improves lives.
Scott practiced as a Certified Orthotist for years prior to owning Orthotic Care Services. Instead of simply filling prescriptions, Scott asked questions to create the best outcome for patients. This involved thinking outside of the box and drawing on his knowledge from working with thousands of patients.
He saw the pathway for improved patient care as a place free of creative restrictions. This led Scott to become the owner of Orthotic Care Services.
Scott hired an all-star team of people that also share a passion for helping kids improve their mobility and function. The team has a genuine interest to make a difference for patients.
Still curious and creative, Scott and his team continue to solve problems and innovate. By asking how things can be even better, Orthotic Care Services has more tools and more answers to provide the best patient care.
To learn more about Scott's wonderful services, follow this link: www.orthoticmn.com. Thank you, Scott and Orthotic Care Services, for all you do to support Capernaum and its families!!
BULGARIA: FIRST TRIP
October 17-27, 2014, Capernaum sent a team of six therapists and two construction workers to Bulgaria. The article below described the events of that trip:
Before Capernaum was approached to do a therapy mission trip to Bulgaria, most of us couldn't find Bulgaria on a map, and none of us really knew anything about the country. Then Bonna, one of Capernaum's co-owners, met Steve and Tanja Pankratz. Steve and Tanja are Minnesota missionaries who have dedicated the last 10 years of their lives to spreading the word and love of God in Bulgaria. The day after hearing their story at a church service Bonna and Tanja were connected and the desire to serve together began.
Bulgaria is a small country in the Balkans that is still largely influenced by Communism. Though it is officially part of the European Union, Bulgaria has been slow to make changes. It is one of the oldest countries in Europe. The government is corrupt with mobsters. The healthcare system is decades behind that of America. The education system is outdated. Overall, the need is great.
As a whole, Bulgaria does not accept people with disabilities. It is largely believed that babies who are born with disabilities should be aborted, abandoned or isolated. Steven and Tanja have a son with Down Syndrome who was born in Bulgaria. After delivery, instead of the medical staff congratulating them on the birth of their precious son, the doctors yelled at Tanja for not doing testing to detect Down Syndrome and aborting their child. Steve and Tanja then changed the focus of their mission to further include teaching love, acceptance, and inclusion for children and adults with disabilities.
So now, Capernaum accepted the challenge to spend one week in Bulgaria. We had a big task in front of us. How could we possibly influence a whole healthcare system? How could we soften the views of so many people? How could we encourage the school system to allow children with disabilities to participate? Could we really make a difference?
While in Bulgaria, a few members of the team spent time at an orphanage. The orphanage workers were serious about their jobs and made sure that all of the children were fed, dressed, and clean. Unfortunately, there was limited stimulation and the relationship piece that is so vital to a child's emotional, social, and physical development was extremely lacking. Kinesiologists worked tirelessly to provide passive movement techniques that were popular in America in the 1940s but have since been proven to be ineffective. A 10-year-old was fed from a bottle because no one knew how to help introduce new textures to a sensory defensive child.
At the orphanage, we met a young boy named Vanko who had a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and autism. Vanko did not have any speech and was not provided with any other ways to communicate. The orphanage workers reported that he frequently became aggressive and hit the workers. During our evaluation, Vanko stole our hearts as a young boy who wanted to interact. He couldn't walk, but he wanted to play. He couldn't talk, but he wanted to communicate. We emphasized to his caretakers that all behavior IS communication.
We also provided suggestions for using sign language, pictures, and visuals to help give Vanko a voice. We talked about letting Vanko make choices and take some ownership over his body. The next day, an orphanage worker reported that when Vanko started to show that he was frustrated, instead of ignoring him or separating him from the group, she asked him if he was hungry. Vanko pulled himself to the table. She asked if he wanted an apple. Vanko took the apple and happily ate the whole thing. Nobody had ever given Vanko a choice before and with this simple change to the way they interact with Vanko, he now had some power. For Vanko, we made a difference!
Throughout the week, the whole team spent a lot of time at a Christian school in which Steve and Tanja are very involved. Most schools in Bulgaria do not allow children with disabilities. If they are allowed, they are often placed in the back of the classroom and not acknowledged. This school is the first of its kind to accept, include, teach, and embrace children with disabilities. Most Bulgarians are not Christian, but this school accepts people of all faiths. They strive to teach Christianity through leading by example. Though the hearts of the teachers are in the right place, Bulgarian colleges do not teach about disabilities and special education. Many of the teachers were challenged in finding ways to include all kids within their classrooms. The Capernaum therapists led four in-services for the school staff and parents. We taught about adapting the curriculum to include all learning styles and levels. We taught about auditory memory skills, executive function skills, and sensory issues. We gave the teachers and parents some tools to help their children access the education they were providing. For those teachers, parents, and students, we made a difference!
While in Bulgaria, the team completed over 50 evaluations! We assessed gross motor skills, fine motor skills, feeding skills, sensory processing skills, social skills, memory, and language. We spent time in classrooms. We helped establish more appropriate seating arrangements and wheelchair fittings. We modeled therapy techniques for parents. We visited a Syrian refugee camp to listen to stories, provide food and prayer, and meet with one child with special needs. We wrote evaluations for each child and provided recommendations to hopefully make a functional difference in each of their lives. For those families, we made a difference!
There is no such thing in Bulgaria as well-child visits, so a few of our evaluations were for typically developing kids whose parents just wanted to check-in and make sure everything was on track. We were able to provide those parents with peace of mind and boost the confidence of those kids by reassuring them about how awesome they were. For those families, we made a difference!
On Sunday, we attended church with the Pankratz family. The service included a small group of Christians who were planting a church of their own in a small office building. Following a flood, the alternate text Sunday school room was almost empty, the walls were dirty and cracked and the floor was cold and dingy. Two men joined us on our trip and they spent every day at the church, painting, cleaning, organizing, building, and bring new life the surroundings! For that congregation, we made a difference!
We maybe didn't change the world, but we met some incredible kids! We shared information with dedicated teachers and helped support some amazing parents. We grew as a team and made connections that will last a lifetime. WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!
BULGARIA: SECOND TRIP
March 19-23, 2015, a team of three therapists from Capernaum returned to Bulgaria for a follow-up visit. The article below describes the highlights of this most recent trip:
Our trip to Bulgaria was fast and furious, but we believe impactful! As soon as we placed our bags in our room, we were off to help prepare for the conference. The next day over 100 parents and specialists came to the presentations. Emily and Marissa were able to share new ideas to facilitate speech, dispel some myths about sign language, and give concrete examples of ways to facilitate language. After the conference we spent an hour answering questions!
The next day we were met at Petskov School by families just waiting with their infants. What a joy it was to provide them with ideas to facilitate movement, language, and feeding. We saw a total of 11 children that day.
Our mission was to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to empower parents to be good advocates and to educate and encourage. Bonna had the opportunity to be interviewed on Bulgarian National Radio. She was able to share that Capernaum is a Christian company, and in our effort to serve the Lord, we came to Bulgaria. When asked what we really wanted to leave with the families, Bonna was able to share a message of hope and that all life has value! Enjoy your child!
Upon our return home, this email was sent to us:
"Hello, I am the mother of Mikaela with Down syndrome, from Bulgaria. I wanted to thank you once again. Michaela began to eat slowly, but this is a big step. Thanks to your advice, she is already taking food. All good from my whole family!! We will be happy to meet again!"
Maybe one day we can meet again. Bulgaria has many needs, but the hope of Jesus is the first priority. Steve and Tanya serve there as field missionaries. They are involved in many areas including special needs ministry. Tanya has a dream of opening a Christian Rehab Agency that provides excellent services, and become such a model, that all want to come and the gospel will be shared. We are praying with her that the Lord will direct her dreams!