March 7th, 2018
February 9th, 2018
Young athletes in Los Robles smile with professional baseball player Gonzalo López during their clinic.
At the end of February, young athletes in Los Robles received an exciting surprise. Comunidad Connect helped bring three nationally-known Nicaraguan professional baseball players to Los Robles for an afternoon of baseball training and motivational talks.
Twenty-two children arrived to the sports field to meet Gonzalo Lopez (signed by the Atlanta Braves in 2000), Juan Vicente Lopez (played with the national team in Nicaragua six times), and Bismarck Guadamuz (played with the national team in Nicaragua four times). The three athletes shared their stories with the boys and girls of how they became professional baseball players, stressing the importance of studying and practicing with dedication. The children worked with the athletes on basic baseball skills, like using a mitt, catching, batting, and pitching.
Ronald Zeledón, coordinator of Comunidad Connect’s sports program in Los Robles, saw the event as a great success. “These Nicaraguan baseball icons shared basic technical skills with the Academy of Los Robles, which was very exciting because they serve as motivation for the young athletes to continue with their training and love of sports.”
Practicing new batting techniques after a brief lesson with Juan Vicente.
Juan Vicente explaining the proper form of how to hold a baseball bat.
The kids were very excited for this opportunity because they had never had professional athletes visit their community before. They also look forward to meeting another local athlete from Jinotega’s baseball team, Juan Blandón, who will be working with the young athletes in Los Robles in the upcoming weeks.
Thank you to everyone who made this event possible! Find out how you can support youth development in Nicaragua today by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The kids of Los Robles had a fun afternoon training with three of their national baseball idols.
Juan Vicente López (far left), Gonzalo López (center) and Bismarck Guadamuz (far right) volunteered their time to help young athletes in Los Robles improve their baseball skills and personal development.
Jump, set, spike! Girls in San Juan del Sur practicing their volleyball skills at the Chicas Fuertes camp last summer.
Comunidad Connect is excited to expand our girls sports program with the start of the Chicas Fuertes (Strong Girls) initiative in San Juan del Sur. This initiative builds off the three-week girls empowerment volleyball camp, also named Chicas Fuertes, hosted by volunteer Mitzi Kincaid last year. Mitzi, a Sports Psychology MA candidate at John F. Kennedy University, led over 150 girls between the ages of 7-17 in San Juan del Sur. Girls learned how to put important mental skills into practice, like deep breathing and positive self-talk, on and off the volleyball court.
We are also proud to partner with Brooke Rundle, a long-time advocate for women’s sports and empowerment through volleyball. She brings NCAA volleyball teams to Nicaragua for exhibition matches with the Nicaraguan national team, while engaging the players in service learning while in country. Chicas Fuertes will benefit from the interaction and role models associated with Brooke’s program.
Chicas Fuertes will provide a safe and structured environment for Nicaraguan youth to participate in sports-related activities to promote healthy lifestyles in rural communities. Through soccer, baseball, and volleyball leagues and clinics, young women will develop positive leadership and team-building skills.
Clinic participants smile with their new volleyball activity books donated by volunteers.
Mitzi Kincaid leads a discussion with the girls about team-building and positive self-talk.
With your support, we can all do our part to love and care for this wonderful community and the amazing girls who desire to play sports. Volunteers can support these projects by leading clinics in Nicaragua and donating supplies, such as uniforms and equipment while engaging in intercultural exchange. Chicas Fuertes will also partner with local businesses, municipal leaders, other NGO’s and the Nicaragua National Volleyball Team in organizing sports leagues, exhibition matches, and enrichment activities.
Learn how you can support Chicas Fuertes by contacting us at email@example.com. Whether you want to join as an individual, bring a group of friends or family to Nicaragua, or partner with your sports team or organization, we look forward to working with you this upcoming year!
Girls at the primary and secondary schools are always excited to share a week or more with visiting volunteers, developing athletic and leadership skills.
Tagged: athletics, chicas fuertes, girls sports, leadership, strong girls, volunteer
January 30th, 2018
Approximately 2 out of 3 families in Los Robles do not have a latrine in their home. Poor sanitation is linked to the transmission of diseases including cholera, diarrhea, typhoid, intestinal worms, and others.
In 2017, Comunidad Connect collaborated with several academic partners to improve our understanding of the current socioeconomic and health status of the community of Los Robles.
Research teams from the University of Calgary, The Ohio State University, and the University of Alabama – headed by Warren Wilson (Calgary), Barbara Piperata (OSU) Kammi Schmeer (OSU), and Jason DeCaro (Alabama) – also presented preliminary findings from their research on maternal and child health in Los Robles this past summer. Some notable findings from these preliminary results are below, along with data collected from Comunidad Connect’s 2016 in-depth survey of 300 households.
In explaining her 2018 vision, Dr. Piperata aims to look at how children’s interactions with their environment (soil, water, food, animals) affects their gut microbiome and incidence of diarrhea.
“We found the people interested and very willing to help with all aspects of the research. This is a major plus for moving ahead… people in the community are interested and willing to help advance understanding and make evidence-based changes to improve well-being. You cannot say that about every place. I think this is very important for seeing a sustained impact.”
As we move forward in 2018 and beyond, we will continue collaborating with academic and community partners to provide a holistic understanding of health in rural Nicaragua. Ongoing research is the key that drives in-country programming. For example, sanitation has emerged as a critical priority. Currently, over 60% of Los Robles is defecating in the open air and only 20% of existing latrines are in decent conditions. We are seeking viable solutions, so please contact us if you know of best practices, colleagues, or research related to rural sanitation in developing countries. We hope to begin with several prototypes in 2018.
Less than 1 in 10 households have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Food insecurity puts people at risk for chronic stress, depression, and the inability to fight infections.
One out of every five children exhibits symptoms of chronic stress, generally due to an inadequate diet. Chronic stress during childhood has dire long-term consequences for the child’s cognitive abilities, work capacity, and the function of their immune system.
Over 50% of participants surveyed in Los Robles did not finish primary school or have received no education. Research has shown that education helps promote and sustain healthy lifestyles: families are more likely to take advantage of health care provision, the effect of education on health is at least as great as the effect of income, and additional education nurtures human development, relationships, and personal, family, and community well-being (Feinstein et al. 2006).
Tagged: Health, research
January 29th, 2018
Dr. Reeder Lanzas teaching children in Los Robles how to prevent cavities.
Dr. Reeder Lanzas, our resident dentist, led and completed the first phase of our oral health initiative with the goal of working with local health volunteers, teachers, and students to identify best strategies to change oral hygiene practices. Over 2000 students participated in 54 educational talks and 1500 students received fluoride treatment in 4 rural communities: Los Robles, San Esteban, Datanlí, and Pueblo Nuevo.
In 2018, we launch the mobile dental clinic to expand our reach and improve the dental hygiene of 500-800 more students. With this clinic, Dr. Lanzas will be able to provide full dental attention, including teeth cleaning services, extractions if necessary, consultations, and preventive oral health education.
We look forward to working with dental brigades this coming year and welcome new academic partners interested in supporting our Preventive Oral Health program. If you would like to become involved, or know someone who would, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about our dental hygiene initiatives by watching our Preventive Oral Health video and see Dr. Reeder Lanzas’ vision for the mobile clinic.
Students excited to use their new toothbrushes and toothpaste after attending Dr. Reeder’s oral health educational talk at the primary school in Los Robles.
Tagged: dental, dentistry, Health, smile, teeth
January 5th, 2018
As 2017 came to a close, we took a look back to some of the best highlights from the past year. Thank you to all of the donors, trip participants, and partners who helped Comunidad Connect extend our reach and impact in communities throughout rural Nicaragua. Take a look at some of our favorite photos below from 2017. We look forward to making even more great memories with you all in the year to come!
Thank you to all of our partners!
Tagged: connect nicaragua, volunteer, Year in Review
January 3rd, 2018
Over the past ten years, Comunidad Connect has helped over 10,000 Nicaraguans live healthier lives. We do this by breaking down barriers to isolation and connecting people to local and international resources that otherwise would be near impossible to obtain. This new year, we invite you to join us in a spirit of global citizenship to help launch our new project: a mobile dental clinic.
Most rural communities in Nicaragua do not have access to dental care. The majority of rural Nicaraguans, aged 15 and up, are missing adult teeth. Cavities are present at an extremely high rate in every age group, requiring many individuals to have further extractions, surgeries or restorations – problems entirely preventable with proper oral hygiene and health education.
Through our new mobile dental clinic, we can bring dental education, teeth cleaning services and consultations to new rural communities, reaching 500-800 students. Watch our Preventive Oral Health video to learn more about Dr. Reeder Lanzas, Comunidad Connect’s resident dentist, and his vision for the dental clinic.
Tagged: dental health, dentistry, kids, mobile clinic, public health
December 18th, 2017
Last week our Youth Connections Program hosted a soccer tournament in Jinotega. Four teams of youth age 13-15 participated, including a teams from Los Robles and San Juan del Sur, as well as Saprissa – a sports academy school from Costa Rica – and another local team. After a few rounds of games, San Juan del Sur and Saprissa made it to the finals. Both teams played a spectacular game, with San Juan del Sur winning the championship.
Ronald Zeledón, the coordinator of our sports programs in Los Robles, organized this event and was proud of all the teams involved. “One of the most important outcomes of this tournament was that it was the first time we have collaborated with San Juan del Sur in one sports event. This was a great way to bring together athletes from both areas of our Youth Connections Program.”
Athletes from San Juan del Sur and Saprissa (Costa Rica) compete in the final game of the tournament.
Ronald also noted the importance of these kinds of events for youth development. “Activities like this tournament are important not only to witness the great talent that these athletes have, but also to see the improvement and development of their abilities. They serve as an opportunity for adolescents to step outside of their comfort zone and be able to share experiences and what they have learned with youth from other parts of the country.”
Team members from SJS receiving medals for their championship.
Alejandro Noguera (left) is the Youth Connections Director, based in San Juan, and helped organize this tournament.
Athletes proud of their first place trophy.
San Juan del Sur (first place)
Saprissa (second place)
Los Robles (third place)
Thank you to everyone who participated and came out to support this tournament!
Tagged: Futbol, play, Soccer, Sports, tournament, youth connections, Youth Development
November 30th, 2017
Tania America Picado is the mother of Crisbell Gutiérrez (far right), one of the beneficiaries of our Neurological and Pediatric Patient Project in Los Robles.
Over the past ten years, Comunidad Connect has provided thousands of Nicaraguans with access to health services, youth development programs, and improved living conditions. We are thankful for your financial support this year, without which this incredible impact would not have been possible.
As we begin our next decade of work driven by our collective experience in Nicaragua, Comunidad Connect kindly requests you to consider extending your impact further by participating in our Holiday Campaign. Your contributions will allow us to expand our programs to reach thousands more residents of isolated communities in Nicaragua and connect them with critical resources and services.
Take for example the family of 9 year old Crisbell Gutiérrez, who we met in the community of Los Robles in 2015. An accident at 2 months old left her partially paralyzed with frequent seizures, while her single mother struggled to provide for her 4 children. Through our health and service programs, we connected Crisbell to Drs. Ben and Karen Thrower who helped provide the appropriate medicine and monthly check ups. Today, Crisbell has increased mobility, seizures are now rare, and her mother is happy knowing her daughter’s special medical needs are being met.
Connecting vital resources to those who need them most is what Comunidad Connect does best, but we cannot do it alone. I invite you to watch Crisbell’s story, share it with others you know and consider making a contribution to our Holiday Campaign. Each of us can be a piece of the solution…and we can indeed go much farther, together.
Keep a look out for more videos in our three-part video series and stay updated with our Holiday Campaign!
Tagged: connectnicaragua, donate, Health, holiday campaign, ruralhealth, Salud, saludpublica
October 12th, 2017
Last week we had a successful first aid workshop with the Brigadistas (community health workers) of Los Robles, Datanlí, Pueblo Nuevo and San Estéban. The Brigadistas received training and first aid kits to ensure immediate health response in their communities. Comunidad Connect partnered with MINSA, the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, to administer this workshop.
Nurse Francis Aguilar, who works with Comunidad Connect and MINSA, comments, “This training was important because the Brigadistas live in areas that are hard to reach, increasing high health risks due to a lack of resources. Emergencies can happen at any hour, so the Brigadistas will be the first to respond immediately to those injured.”
Over 15 women participated in this first aid workshop and are excited to share their new knowledge with their respective communities. “The health workers learned lots of skills during the training, like what to do in an emergency, how to treat wounds, and immobilize patients,” notes Francis.
Thank you to all the participants and staff for making this event possible!
Tagged: first aid, Health, Nicaragua, preventative health, Rural Health
October 3rd, 2017
Since 2016, local volunteers in rural Nicaragua have invested over 5800 hours of community service to earn preventative health projects, such as our painting initiative to decrease the number of mosquitos in the home. Specially formulated paint reduces mosquito-borne illnesses like Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika, which allows children to miss fewer days of school and helps families live happier, healthier lives. Thank you to all of our local and international volunteers for supporting this initiative and enhancing community health!
Tagged: Community Development, disease prevention, public health