The following project was conducted prior to the global outbreak of COVID-19.
By Emiko Perea
In January 2020, Global Peace Foundation (GPF) volunteers in the Philippines organized the People for Persons with Disability Empowerment (PPWDE) program for 48 students from regular and special education classes. The interactive program utilized art, sports, and dialogue to bring together diverse youth in the community, hoping to increase their empathy and ability to relate to each other.
Whatever situation we are born into, with whatever advantages or disadvantages we carry in life, it is vital to our humanity to remember that we are always stronger together. Although unique in so many ways, every person must develop the character to look beyond their own often self-made barriers to bring the greatest vision into reality; We are all members of one human family.
“We enjoyed the company of each other and we had the opportunity to know more about our fellow scholars whom we are seeing for years but haven’t built any connection,” said one participant.
“It is through this program that we built our relationship with others and we realized that we are really part of one human family.”
The first workshop in the program was called “May Pangalan Ako!” which means “I have a name.” The objective was to raise awareness of a respectful way to interact with people with special needs. The workshop had a series of games for the students with and without special needs to get to know each other. There was also a lecture on how to address each other by name and role-playing activities to demonstrate how to interact with classmates with special needs.
The second workshop, titled “May Magagawa Ako” or “there is something I can do,” provided the participants with a way to discover their unique talents and skills and gain confidence from them in order to bridge their community. The participants took initiative in exploring their unique talents by hosting a mini-fair called “Festival of Talents.” The participants themselves ran the booths: music, dance, home economics, arts, journalism, and sports. They also collaborated together for a small performance displaying their unique talents.
The last workshop was “Ako at Ikaw, Tayo ay May Magagawa!” translated as “me and you, we can do it!” For this final event, the participants came together and combined their skills and talents to learn to sing and dance together to the song “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman.
The program raised awareness of people with disabilities and instilled conviction in their natural gifts. A participant said, “I learned in this training that I have other talents and skills that I thought before I don’t have. This training gave me an opportunity to learn and discover more of my talents and skills.”
“I am thankful for this program because it gave me so much understanding of my leadership potential, that I am not only a leader tomorrow but in my own simplest way today I am already a leader,” said another participant.
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