Fort Wayne is on the world-wide map thanks to Turnstone, who hosts international visitors hoping to help those with disabilities in their own countries.
“I’ve been dreaming about doing something like this in Lebanon since the first time I started dealing with special people,” Iman El Sabbagh from Lebanon said.
She and Maria Leticia Baez Houdin from Paraguay are learning everything they can from the people at Turnstone with the goals of developing similar programs back home.
“I would like to lean from here the tools and strategy to encourage people to become more involved,” Houdin explained.
They’re in the Summit City as a result of the Global Sports Mentoring Program. Launched in 2012 by the United States Department of State and ESPN, the staffs of U.S. Embassies nominate people who have a drive to make changes in their home countries.
“One of the main things we want to do is to show them is what we do here,” Turnstone Director of Program Outreach Tina Acosta told NewsChannel 15. “We want to show them the passion and the support from our board members as well as this community.”
The visitors will now put together and present action plans using the lessons learned at Turnstone to accomplish those goals back home.
“People here make you feel comfortable, so we are learning so much,” Houdin added. “It’s such a good experience to be here.”
That experience will then help these two help those with disabilities, just like Turnstone doesin Fort Wayne.
“When you see their smile that they are now capable of doing something that they thought they were uncapable to do, that gives you a really good feeling,” El Sabbagh said.
Not only is the pair learning about programming but they are also developing marketing and communication skills, so they can reach out to others, encouraging them in their respective countries to get involved.
The program has been ranked as one of the 10 best diplomatic achievements in the world and a key initiative to address the U.N.’s goal of gender equality.