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Social Work Study Abroad Blog: Differently Abled in Cuernavaca

This post is from Social Work in a Latin American Context student, Amy Theurer.

Hello all, my name is Amy!

Mexico is a beautiful place with interesting music, museums, and tourist attractions everywhere you look! Nonetheless, it doesn’t take very long for a person to realize that the sidewalks, roads and attractions in Cuernavaca aren’t made with the elderly or people with disabilities in mind. So, I will be writing about this issue that is very close to my heart.

In Cuernavaca especially the sidewalks are very uneven, have frequent random steps, and are usually going up or down a hill. I’ve seen few ramps and all the buses I’ve been on don’t have accessibility for individuals with wheelchairs. The Social Work study abroad program students had a woman named Araceli Vallejo from the Morelos Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF) come and talk to us the other week. I asked a few questions about how the DIF helps individuals with disabilities and she answered by saying that they donate things such as wheelchairs, glasses, and canes. She also said that the DIF does their research to see what the family really can’t pay for and if the DIF can’t help them out with their specific needs, they connect them to other organizations that can. Araceli talked about how there is an organization in Cuernavaca that is really concerned about people with disabilities because Cuernavaca just doesn’t have the infrastructure to accommodate for their needs, but that things are getting better. Therefore, in some places, ramps are being installed and there is now two buses that have the capacity to pick up individuals in wheelchairs. So, progress is being made.

It would probably be good to mention that, back home, I’m a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) for kids with special needs and here in Mexico my internship is at an organization called Con Nosotros. Con Nosotros helps individuals with cerebral palsy learn to be more independent and find new pathways to movements. This organization doesn’t believe in saying that these people have disabilities, they’re just differently able, but perfectly capable of living productive lives. This organization also believes that society is what disables these individuals and gives them the label of being disabled. After seeing how these kids need to get around, it would be very difficult in Cuernavaca. So, I’m wondering if they really get to go many places. Since they don’t have many options to get around people are missing out on all the beautiful things Mexico has to offer!

As future social workers how could we advocate for clients who need different ways of getting around? Or what changes could we assist in making to help people of the community see that adding ramps, etc. would be beneficial and not a hassle?  Answer these questions and share your thoughts with us on Facebook, where this post is linked up for conversation1

Cuernavaca streets
Hilly streets in Cuernavaca


Cuernavaca side walks
Uneven sidewalks in Cuernavaca