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Seattle Woman Founds First Non-Profit School for Special Students in Cusco, Peru

Seattle Woman Founds First Non-Profit School for Special Students in Cusco, Peru

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Celeste Marion, BHS and UW graduate is the Co-Founder and Executive director of Manos Unidas, founding the first private school for Special Education in Cusco, Peru. The school started in the living room of her house in Cusco in 2007. Marion will be hosting the Winter Photo Exhibition at the Q Café in Seattle, WA Jan. 21, ‘12. The event will be sponsored by the Children of Peru Foundation (NY), exhibiting 10 profile
Celeste Marion, BHS and UW graduate is the Co-Founder and Executive director of Manos Unidas, founding the first private school for Special Education in Cusco, Peru. The school started in the living room of her house in Cusco in 2007. Marion will be hosting the Winter Photo Exhibition at the Q Café in Seattle, WA Jan. 21, ‘12. The event will be sponsored by the Children of Peru Foundation (NY), exhibiting 10 profile

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Published by: PR.com on Dec 28, 2011
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Seattle Woman Founds First Non-Profit School for Special Students in Cusco,Peru
Celeste Marion, BHS and UW graduate is the Co-Founder and Executive director of Manos Unidas, founding the first private school for Special Education in Cusco, Peru. The school started in theliving room of her house in Cusco in 2007. Marion will be hosting the Winter Photo Exhibition at the Q Café in Seattle, WA Jan. 21, ‘12. The event will be sponsored by the Children of PeruFoundation (NY), exhibiting 10 profile photos by Cusco photographer Vanessa Cúneo. Photos willbe auctioned for funds.
Seattle, WA, December 27, 2011 --(PR.com)-- Celeste Marion, Bothell High School (1998) andUniversity of Washington graduate (2003) has dedicated the last 7 years of her life for children withspecial needs in the high Andes of Peru. She is the Co-Founder and Executive director Manos Unidas, aPeruvian non-profit founding the first private school for special education in Cusco. The school providesquality education and teacher training programs for children and young adults with developmentaldisabilities such as Down Syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy.Marion landed in Peru as a free spirited backpacker and volunteer in 2004 after spending many yearsworking with children with autism in Seattle, Wa. She was promptly hired as a program coordinator witha rural special education school near Cusco. After 2 years of desperately trying to make change andfeeling defeated, she joined forces with Mercedes Delgado, a local Peruvian school teacher, and foundedtheir own program with a different philosophy: “These children CAN learn.”Manos Unidas, is dedicated to improving the lives of children with disabilities by working towardsinclusion within their own families, the schools and community. In 2009, Marion and Delgado opened“Camino Nuevo,” the first private school for special education which receives children on a sliding scaletuition level, the criteria being dedicated parents. They have trained a staff of 22 local professionalsworking with more than 70 students in an overcrowded, rented building but the passion to thrive will notbe extinguished.The school started without capital in the living room of Delgado's house in Cusco in 2007 with borrowedfurniture, thrift store toys and a passion to educate both children and the community. They started with 3students and worked endlessly for 1 year and a half to establish a reputation of quality and successfuleducation. Both Marion and Delgado worked several other jobs to support themselves while launchingManos Unidas. In 2009, Manos Unidas was approved with the Peruvian Ministry of Education for thefirst private school for special education opening their doors on March 1 with 35 children.Not only did Marion work with Delgado to create the education center, she also has been the solefundraiser for the project since 2008. She has straddled 2 worlds for the past 5 years, creating a strongteam of professionals in Cusco as well as networking and fundraising in the U.S. Her roles have alsoincluded website design, marketing, forming the Board of Advisers, organizing the first internationalseminar for autism in Cusco (2010), managing the volunteer program, training teachers in autismeducation and Applied Behavior Analysis, organizing fundraising events in the Seattle and New York 
 
city, managing donor relations and, well, never stops.The first benefit concert was held in Seattle in 2008 raising $3,000. Her fundraising efforts have excelledin the last year with new support from a small foundation in NY and forming new relationships withphilanthropic supporters who believe in the future of Manos Unidas. Student tuition at Camino Nuevoonly covers about 55% of the MU budget. Donors can choose to sponsor a student scholarship or supportany of the many ongoing projects.Future plans include launching the young adult vocational training program, the School Inclusion projectwith local public schools and building their own facilities. 25% of Manos Unidas students are abandonedand live in orphanages. Their vision includes creating independent communal living homes to secure apositive and productive future for these abandoned kids who will someday be adults.The success of Manos Unidas relies strongly on supportive professionals, as well as her family, who havedonated significant time and resources. Marion embarked on a U.S. fundraising tour in fall of 2010visiting 8 cities in the U.S. to hold fundraising parties, visit professionals at universities (Boston College,NYU, San Diego State University, University of Washington, CUNY Queens) and advertise the volunteerprogram. Since MU is not a large enough organization to support such a trip, Celeste could be seen anygiven day on the streets or in craft markets selling Peruvian artisan work such as jewelry and alpaca hats.She used the public appearances to talk to people about her work. Many Seattleites may recognize herfrom the Fremont Sunday Market where she has been selling since 2005, showing up just near Christmasevery year.January 21, 2012, Manos Unidas will be hosting the Winter Photo Exhibition at the Q Café (3223 15thAve ) in Seattle, WA. This fundraising event will exhibit 10 professional profile photos printed on canvasby Cusco photographer Vanessa Cuneo, a longtime friend of Manos Unidas. The 16x24 photos will be ondisplay the entire month of January and silent auctioned the night of the event.The event will be sponsored by the Children of Peru Foundation (NY) and will be hosted by ManosUnidas own Celeste Marion, and members of the new Board of Directors recently formed in the U.S. Thenight will be alive with dance, music and rhythms by Monica Rojas' El CAJON PROJECT as well as asurprise ending performance. Join Manos Unidas on this epic night to raise funds. The Children of PeruFoundation (NY) is offering a $1 to $1 match of up to $10,000 for the night of the event and every dollardonated to MU during the month of January.###

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