Little Hands, Big Hearts (LHBH) is a Christian ministry located in Trujillo, Honduras that primarily serves “special needs” children in an impoverished community. The Republic of Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America (after Haiti). The city of Trujillo is located on the Caribbean coast and remote from the major cities of the country.
LHBH is “dedicated to empowering the indigenous church and sharing the Good News of Jesus with needy children and their families in Honduras.” Specific ministries include a developmental preschool, women’s sewing program, neighborhood children’s Bible hour, health and nutrition outreach, home improvement program, young people’s character-building program, and educational programs with the local churches and schools in the Trujillo area. Short-term visiting mission teams supplement the work and activities of the mission carried out by the Honduran-trained staff of LHBH.
To learn more, the ministry operates a website (http://www.littlehandsbighearts-mission.org/) and has also published a short, introductory video (https://youtu.be/8zOgsa8tYUg).
Although it is not connected to this project, a website called "Kids Around the World" has a wonderful page titled "Why Kids?". Read this for a wonderful synopsis on the power of childhood play in changing little lives!
Image Courtesy of Katie Wilson, DPT
The LHBH Developmental Preschool is the centerpiece of the ministry. This preschool is overseen by a director and three specially-trained teacher/therapists. They presently serve 14 children with disabilities and special needs. These disabilities include cerebral palsy, spina bifada, and hydrocephalus. Ages range from 6 months to 15 years. The teachers prepare and chart progress on an “Individual Educational Plan” (IEP) for each child to maximize their physical, social, and mental development.
The precious children served by the LHBH preschool.
LHBH Board Member Katie Wilson, DPT works with a LHBH child.
A group of North American physical and occupational therapists visited LHBH three years ago. A group has returned to work with the teachers and children each year since. They have urged the ministry to initiate physical therapy at an earlier age during infancy rather than wait for the traditional age at which a child enters preschool. LHBH began this effort in 2013 and it has proven most beneficial to those children who started during infancy.
One of the most urgent needs for the LHBH ministry is for the children to continue the muscular and physical development using outdoor play therapy. They have developed a series of activities that are conducted indoors, but find that these need to be complemented by gross motor development activities outside. Whether the child uses a walker, is wheelchair bound, or has other physical disabilities, LHBH wishes to provide play therapy in a park playground on the grounds of the Little Hands, Big Hearts mission.
The Peugeot Center for Engineering Service in Developing Communities at Lipscomb University is currently partnering with LHBH and KDF Architecture to plan, prepare, and construct a therapeutic playground park specifically for disabled and special needs children at LHBH.
To design and construct a safe outdoor area that allows and encourages the children of LHBH to engage in therapeutic play.
An Assessment and Research Team (ART) met in Honduras during June 28-July 3, 2016. They accomplished the following:
Images from the ART trip including the selected playground site can be found at <http://TPP.josephtipton.com/index.php/Playground-Site>.
Members of the 2016 Assessment and Research Team in front of the selected playground site.
Members of ART compiled a list of LHBH children that included physical activities deemed beneficial for their physical development. That list revealed 5 basic activities that would enable every child to experience at least 3 play options on the playground:
The team also felt the following areas are important to include in the playground:
Rod Knipper, is a partner at KDF Architecture and is the design lead for the project. In November 2016, he created a concept of the playground as shown below.
During the 2016-2017 academic year, a senior design team at Lipscomb University began preliminary designs for some of the play equipment, the bridge, and the treehouse.
During Spring Break 2017, a team from Lipscomb engineering missions traveled to Trujillo. They completed a professional-quality engineering survey of the playground site and cleaned the area of debris and leaves.
In May 2017, another team from Lipscomb engineering missions traveled to Trujillo. They oversaw operations to level and prepare the playground site for construction. This included:
Click on the images below to see more!
Therapeutic Equipment Design
During the Fall semester of 2017, Dr. Joseph Tipton will be teaching ENGR-1113-04L "Introduction to Engineering". The focus of the laboratory will be to design appropriate playground equipment using the Engineering4Change "Human Centered Design" methodology. His freshmen mechanical engineering students will be designing actual equipment - about as "real world" as you can get!
The construction and installation of the playground will occur in 2018! Lipscomb University is specifically in charge of the therapeutic playground equipment. A trip is in the planning stages with an anticipated travel date of Monday, May 7 to Tuesday, May 15. Please contact Dr. Joseph Tipton if you are interested in participating!
The current Therapeutic Playground Project is focused on Engineering Missions through the Peugeot Center at Lipscomb. The long term vision is for LHBH to be a mission location for Lipscomb students in general. The mission of LHBH offers unique opportunities for students in
Students and faculty from disciplines outside of engineering are encouraged to visit LHBH with the May 2018 engineering mission trip, volunteer with the ministry in their area of interest, and help inspire their academic programs for future projects!