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Pediatric Volunteer Experience in Mexico

group photo from Jornada tripJornada, a Spanish word for a “day’s journey,” was started in 2005 by Ellen Norton, a San Diego Pediatric Physical Therapist. Jornada partners with the Hospital Infantil de las Californias’ (HIC) rehabilitation department and volunteers from the United States and Mexico to provide multi-disciplinary therapy consultations to children with disabilities.

The multi-disciplinary teams consist of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, translators, therapy students, and friends from both countries. Patients travel from a radius of several hours from Tijuana, and volunteers come from as far as Los Angeles and San Bernardino County. Mount Saint Mary’s DPT students, as well as DPT students from San Diego State University and undergraduate students from UCSD, regularly volunteer to assist therapists.

Therapists bring donated equipment for use by their specialties, such as wheelchairs, walkers, braces, and other medically necessary items. Patients receive multidisciplinary treatment, medical equipment, and education regarding therapeutic activities to improve their functioning at home, school, and in the community.

Jornada trip images of students with clients


“Jornada was an eye opening experience that made me wish we could do more. I helped a 7-year old child stand for the first time, the look on his mother's face and the tears in her eyes, made me realize I chose the right career path. I look forward to the next trip down and I hope more students will be able to join!”

- Katy Schneider, MSMU 2020


“Jornada was definitely an experience I will never forget! We had the opportunity to work with PTs, OTs, STs, dietitians, as well as translators to help satisfy the needs of our patients. We helped select appropriate orthotics for the kiddos, perform gait analyses, and properly adjust assistive devices to our patients. I remember working with a 1-1/2 year old kiddo who was not able to sit independently, and the mother started to cry. I ended up getting a little emotional, but also felt grateful that we were able to provide emotional support, educate the mother and provide her suggestions on what she could do at home to facilitate the kiddo's motor development. I encourage my classmates to partake in this experience, even if you're not interested in pediatrics!”

- Katrina Wong, MSMU 2020