In Spanish, “alcanzando” means “reaching potential” and that is something Mapy Chavez Askins helps others do every day.
As Director and CEO of Alcanzando, a not-for-profit organization that brings worldwide awareness of autism in Spanish-speaking countries, Mapy works diligently to reach out and change the lives of children with autism.
Launched in 2014 in Naples, for countries with limited or non-existent services supporting families with children with autism, she raises money to connect families with specialists worldwide who volunteer their services. Currently, Alcanzando is established in Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Spain. And more countries will come on board, she says, as foundations and private donors lend their support.
Mapy was first inspired to work in the autism field at age 12 after watching a movie about it in her native Peru. After her family immigrated to the United States and she completed her education, she made it her mission to fill the gap in services not offered by government agencies in her homeland. She was instrumental in passing legislation in Peru that allows for the protection of children with autism. Since then, she’s expanded her network and has plans to raise funds to bring help to a larger part of the globe.
In doing so, Mapy will be able to change lives, as her team did recently in Peru. After working for two years with the impoverished family of a five-year-old girl who had no communication except through hitting herself, the child’s communication skills improved so dramatically using picture exchange communication, her family was astounded.
“As we educate families, we improve lives. And in improving lives, we change them, every day.”
Pictured: Dr. Mapy Chavez Askins