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Smiles shine through struggles at children's clinic

Nacho Doce / Reuters

Rychard Barboso, 5, looks at his physical therapist during a session at the Association for the Aid of Disabled Children (AACD) in Sao Paulo on March 19. All images captured by Nacho Doce of Reuters.

A disabled girl embraces a doll during a session of physical therapy at the AACD on March 19.

The Association for the Aid of Disabled Children (AACD) in Sao Paulo is a non-profit organization that began in 1950 with just 14 patients. It now works with some 8,000 young victims of disabling conditions and diseases such as cerebral palsy, and most of the patients come from impoverished or broken homes.

Reuters photographer Nacho Doce became aware of the clinic through a close friend and was astonished at the range of disabilities the children faced and was impressed with their determination and resilience.

It was the children’s smiles and willpower that drew me to them from the start, as much to those who couldn’t move as to those who couldn’t speak or sense. The parents and even the therapists also showed incredible strength.

-- Nacho Doce

All photos were shot by Nacho Doce in March and April, and were made available to msnbc.com today.

A girl wearing a brace on her leg is assisted by a physical therapist during a hydrotherapy session at the AACD on April 3.

A physical therapist supports Luiza Ezaledo, 2, during a hydrotherapy session on April 2.

Luara Crystal, 5, who suffers from brittle bone disease, lifts a weight next to her physical therapist during a session at the AACD.

Ivan Bevenuto, 4, sits next to his skateboard after taking part in a Capoeira therapy session at the AACD on March 21.

Yara Santos, 9, talks with her mother before a session of physical therapy on March 21.

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