Homestead, Miami, 27 August 2011 (PAHO/WHO) — A commission from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) visited La Ventana, an institution created by singer-songwriter and Health Champion Ricardo Montaner and his wife Marlene to work jointly in advocating for protection of the rights of children and adolescents with special abilities and promoting areas that facilitate their full and comprehensive development.
This collaboration seeks to promote the creation of a framework for the rights of children and adolescents with special abilities in the States of the region. The visit to La Ventana in Homestead, Florida, a model farm created by the singer-songwriter in 2005, took place on Saturday, 27 August.
“I want to be the voice, champion, and ambassador, and champion of these children to presidents, regional organizations, and society as a whole to eradicate the discrimination and exclusion that they are exposed to. We must create areas that protect them and allow them to grow, giving and receiving love with their families, so that we all learn their language, to give and receive that smile that opens the windows of heavens of happiness,” said Ricardo Montaner, revealing his long-standing passion for these children: “I have seen how the La Ventana environment transforms them. I have seen 7-year-old autistic children who could not talk yet. After a few weeks in contact with the animals and the environment here, they not only began to talk, but to socialize with their environment. I want to spread this to the entire region!” he declared.
In 2012 PAHO will present a comprehensive child health policy to its Directing Council, which brings together the Ministers of Health of the Americas. The health sector has a key responsibility in the early detection of developmental conditions of infants and children, so that early stimulation interventions can be introduced immediately.
“Including proposals for a comprehensive policy that protects the rights of children and adolescents with different and special abilities, from the early detection of their condition to stimulation, psychosocial, and nutritional measures and full health development, will be the linchpin of a proposal for a comprehensive child health policy that will be presented to the health authorities of our Hemisphere,” explained Dr. Mirta Roses, Director of PAHO. “What our Regional Advisor, Dr. Armando Vásquez, has witnessed today, shows the importance of including civil society initiatives in the development of that policy. La Ventana creates areas not only for children with special abilities but for the entire family, providing us with a model that integrates the response of many sectors ,in addition to the health sector, with a rights-based approach,” she concluded.
For persons with diverse different mental disorders, Ricardo Montaner stressed that use of the term “special abilities” will be promoted, thus affirming these children’s ability to detect and express affection and love. “They have a nonverbal form of communication that is recognized as a language in the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Special Abilities,” he finally said with a smile, intentionally changing the name.
About the La Ventana de los Cielos Foundation:
La Ventana offers art and music workshops, as well as interaction with animals, activities with horses, and water experiences, since all of them help children with special abilities to relax and develop their self-esteem in the context of their specific condition. La Ventana integrates the participation of volunteers and parents with a high level of commitment as an essential element. The work conducted by La Ventana is currently progressing in two model farms: one in Homestead, Florida, established in 2005, and the other in Rosario, Argentina, established in 2010.
For La Ventana de los Cielos Foundation:
Phone +1 786 237 9728
For the Pan American Health Organization:
Leticia Linn, phone +1 202 974 3440, Media and Communication