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Church donation in Mexico helps children with cerebral palsy take their first steps

APAC was able to purchase a robotic motor assistance device, or exoskeleton, to provide therapy for children

This month, a child who had always dreamed of dancing was able to finally do so with the help of a robotic motor assistance device. A smile filled her face as she and others around her clapped with joy.

She has cerebral palsy, and being able to stand up and dance or walk can seem like a miracle. But a recent donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mexico is helping make this happen for more children.

The Church and eight other organizations gave funding to the Association for People with Cerebral Palsy (APAC) to purchase an ATLAS 2030 Exoskeleton, explained the Church’s Mexico Newsroom. APAC was founded in 1970 to help improve the quality of life of people in Mexico with cerebral palsy.

Similar robotic assistance devices have previously been available for adults. But the ATLAS 2030 — developed in Spain — is the first for children. This is the first in pediatric use outside of Europe.

The standing and walking actions help develop the brains and strengthen the muscles of the children. Through therapy, some of the children may one day be able to walk on their own. Each ATLAS can provide therapy for 60 to 90 children each week. 

APAC CEO Guadalupe Maldonado Guerrero said the robotic device “will help all children to participate in activities that most of us take for granted.”

APAC held four events from Sept. 26 to Oct. 7 in Mexico City to celebrate the purchase of the ATLAS 2030. At each of the events, therapists helped children with cerebral palsy demonstrate how the device works.

A child smiles as his therapist helps him stand in the ATLAS 2030 in Mexico City, Mexico, on Oct. 6, 2022.
A child smiles as his therapist helps him stand in the ATLAS 2030 in Mexico City, Mexico, on Oct. 6, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Ranulfo Cervantes, an Area Seventy for the Church in Mexico, attended the event on Oct. 6 to recognize donors and celebrate APAC’s 50th anniversary.

“Witnessing the demonstration of the exoskeleton that helps children with cerebral palsy develop their motor and mental abilities was wonderful, it is a heart-warming experience,” Elder Cervantes told Mexico’s Newsroom. 

“The collaboration that the Church has with APAC gives us the opportunity (of) following the example of the Savior. He always felt compassion for the sick and made sure to bless and heal them.”

The Church has been working with APAC for the last three years to help provide donated medical equipment and furniture.

In June, President Bonnie H. Cordon, President Camille N. Johnson and Sister Reyna I. Aburto traveled to Mexico and represented the presidencies of the Church’s Young Women, Primary and Relief Society, respectively. 

In addition to meeting with missionaries, members of the Church and civic leaders, they also met with leaders from APAC.

Twin sisters hug at an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of  the Association for People With Cerebral Palsy (APAC) in Mexico City, Mexico, on Oct. 6, 2022. One of the girls is standing with the help of the ATLAS 2030 exoskeleton.
Twin sisters hug at an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Association for People With Cerebral Palsy (APAC) in Mexico City, Mexico, on Oct. 6, 2022. One of the girls is standing with the help of the ATLAS 2030 exoskeleton. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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