By Leovic H. Rapirap, Φ 2021, Class 2025
We have partnered with nine organizations, two high schools, and two colleges, bringing together a total of over 250 individuals for the online event conducted on Zoom and livestreamed on Facebook last April 2.
As an experienced special education teacher, Ma’am Delie Dell Chua shared ways on how to become an advocate for people with disabilities. An interactive discussion was led in learning about the myths and truths surrounding the topic. Aside from correcting common misconceptions, she also gave a reminder that people with disabilities are just like everyone else so we should not treat them differently. Teacher Delie also highlighted how we can do more for people with disability together and encouraged everyone to join support groups and be an advocate.
On the other hand, Ma’am Cecile Sicam, one of the original founders of the Autism Society Philippines (ASP), talked about the challenges persons with autism spectrum disorder experience as they transition to adolescence and the strategies to make this shift easier for them. She mentioned the importance of preparing and empowering the child, family, and school to develop skills in overcoming these challenges. Transition plans must be individualized based on the child’s strengths, interests, and potential rather than one’s disability. Finally, it was emphasized how vital it is that our teens feel loved, accepted, and supported with all the necessary resources to accomplish what they want.
Our final speaker was Ma’am Carmen Zubiaga, an ardent advocate for gender equality, disability, and social inclusion, and a 2022 senatorial aspirant. She spoke about disability awareness and sensitivity, underscoring that not all disabilities are apparent. Her talk gave light on the value of disability-sensitive language that puts people first and does not identify the disability alone. Eventually, she left us with the message, “…the most important thing is that we do not segregate them from their core group. We do not segregate youth with disabilities from other youth, because just like any other youth, they also need to experience and be treated as people with future and people with ambitions, people with dreams of being contributing members of society.”
To complete the program, Si Ana Atleta was also launched. Our very own Sister Caritas, Mica Ravago, Phi 2020 introduced this storybook which is one of the sorority’s biggest projects for the year. It tells the story of Ana, a girl with physical disability who in her quest to realize her dream of becoming a basketball player, learns to overcome her limitations and discovers the value of diversity and inclusivity. This project aims to empower children with special needs by helping them develop confidence and embrace their own different abilities.
The event was capped off with a panel forum where a set of questions from the audience were answered by our speakers. The participants’ display of interest in becoming advocates for persons with disabilities was truly inspiring. May we never cease to strive against systemic barriers and build a better and just world for everyone.