By John Agliata

One morning in the not-too-distant future, Johan will leave his house and join his classmates on the walk to school in his mountainous home village outside Ocotepeque, Honduras.

Slung on his back locked safely in a sturdy case will be an iPad donated to him during his month-long journey at Shriners Hospitals for Children – St. Louis, a month that opened up a world of opportunities for the quick-to-smile 4-year-old.

Johan was born without a left arm, much of his right leg and a right arm that extends only a few inches from his shoulder. To imagine how his early life has been limited is to understand why his mother, Ana, jumped at the chance to come to the United States for care at the St. Louis Shriners Hospital via its partner, the World Pediatric Project.

The original purpose of Johan’s visit was so the experts in the hospital’s Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services department could sculpt a perfectly adjusted prosthetic right leg. Then the occupational and physical therapists at the hospital got ahold of him.

“He was originally supposed to leave shortly after receiving the prosthesis, but when we saw what the possibilities were, we went to World Pediatric Project and asked if there was any way we could extend his stay’” said Michelle Stading, an occupational therapist at the St. Louis Shriners Hospital for the past year-and-a-half.