Summer School: Inspiring and educating children in La Cruz

Amigos de la La Cruz with the leadership of Myra Franco is running the Summer School in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. Near and dear to Myra’s heart are community and children. When I interviewed her she told me, “I think we should all work for what we want in our town, focusing on how we want it to grow and, of course, take care of it.” Myra is at it again, for a second year, passionate about time with the kids.


Myra told me “I work with and for the kids; they are always open to have fun and enjoy new experiences. Parents are excited to give their kids the opportunity to try new things. One of the highlights from last year were the swimming lessons, the teacher was great! In general, kids have fun doing different things with direction and purpose”.


With the help of other teachers; Lily Alcántara, Sergio Huerta and Xilonen Foster and volunteers; Manuel Torres, Maricruz Glez and Fiona Foster, the kids will experience swimming, music, dance and rhythm. They also create art using recycled items and more.

Teaching Braille to Emma.

Register for Summer School; July 26 thru Aug 5. Contact Myra or at the Elementary School (Primaria); ages 6-14 . Scholarships available.

Another inspirational volunteer in La Cruz is Shawna O’Neal; a teacher of the Visually Impaired in Portland, Oregon. Shawna came to La Cruz to work with 6-year old first grade student Emma; a twin, her sister is sighted and Emma is blind. Shawna is being hosted by Amigos de la Cruz volunteer par excellence Carmen Tapia, a “retired” teacher from Tucson, Arizona who now makes Tucson and Punta Esmeralda her home.


In order to work with Emma for five days, Shawna brought along a Brailler typewriter, a white cane and numerous other materials in order to assess and teach Emma.  These items were from anonymous donors, Banderas Bay Charities, Inc and Shawna; they will remain in La Cruz.


Emma was blessed with the help of little sixth grade student, Dunia or as I call her Dunita, as her mom, a local veterinarian, has the same name. Dunita will accompany and help Emma at Summer Camp and will practice Braille with her.

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Carmen shared with me recently that Emma is building up her awareness and is engaged in reading and writing. “We made a letter scramble in Braille of the FIVE letters she already recognizes in Braille. She was so successful in reading and writing the five letters that her face lit up SO many times!”


Emma completes homework with her encouraging mom. She requested a three ring binder as a place to put her work to create her own book.


Emma has been introduced to different tactile experiences: the life cycle of a butterfly, a seed, and a frog. Emma said, “Let me see,” while searching for more pieces. They also worked on shapes with wooden and plastic pieces on a Velcro board and tactile Braille shapes on paper.

Great news Shawna will return to continue working with Emma; the generosity of others is amazing.


Alaska Airlines is providing Shawna with a free round-trip ticket, and an anonymous donor was so moved that his family is providing a round-trip ticket so Shawna’s family can join her. Another anonymous donor is providing a house for Shawna and family to reside while she is in La Cruz.


It appears that Amigos de la Cruz, with the help of many, have assisted in changing another life forever. May Emma be as independent as possible!


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Cindy Bouchard
Cindy Bouchard, an expat Canadian runs a Boutique Hotel, Villa Amor del Mar, in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. She and her husband Chris are living and lovin’ in Vallarta–Nayarit. If you want more info on La Cruz or desire… A very special vacation contact Cindy via