Monday, January 26, 2015

Angels Walk for Autism at Mall of Asia Arena Attempts to Set a Guinness World Record

In commemoration of the 19th National Autism Consciousness Week, about 12,000 members of the autism community attempted to set a Guinness World Record yesterday morning as the largest crowd wearing wings at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Angels Walk was also held at Balyuan Towers in Tacloban City and SM City Cebu. Families, friends, and advocates of various Autism Society of the Philippines (ASP) chapters showed up mostly wearing green shirts and white wings. They all made a beautiful sight inside MOA Arena and while walking in orderly lines around the Mall of Asia complex.  

National Autism Consciousness Week, which began in January 1996 after the issuance of Presidential Proclamation No. 711, aims to inspire awareness, acceptance, and inclusion of persons with autism (PWAs) in society.

Before everybody went outside to do the historical walk, officers of stakeholder associations were sworn in by Director Carmen Zubiaga of the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA). Among them were representatives of the ASP, Philippine Association for Speech Pathologists, and Occupational Therapists Association of the Philippines.   

We were also treated to autism-inclusive performances by The Heart at Play Foundation. Dancers were joined by several PWAs on stage and one couldn't help but smile and appreciate at how hard they all worked together to put on such a good show. One line in the voice-over resonated in me deeply, "I may  be flawed, but I am not broken." That is very true. 

Little did I know that I would also be dancing along with the thousands of people inside the arena when certified zumba and piloxing trainer Donna Lim had everybody on his/her feet to follow her moves and do an Auti-Zumba. SM executives invited on stage also enthusiastically danced to the music.

The National Anthem video, featuring children and adults with autism, was very touching. Having a child who also have special needs but is not able to talk, I celebrate with these individuals for that ability to verbalize what they want to say.

In their opening remarks, Ms. Dang Koe, ASP Chair Emeritus, and Ms. Mona Magno-Veluz, ASP National President, shared their dream of having an A-OK (Autism-OK) Philippines that has autism-friendly places, compassionate workplaces, transition and job coaches, professionals on the spectrum, and livelihood opportunities.

Mayor Abalos and Mandaluyong advocates
Other speakers were Mayor BenHur Abalos Jr. of Mandaluyong, a city that is very active supporting persons with disabilities, and Diwa Partylist representative Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, another autism advocate. 

Engr. Mateo and Mr. Sy (second and third from left)
Engr. Bien C. Mateo, SM Program on Disability Affairs promised that they, at SM Cares, will "continue to flap our wings" and help members of the autism community in any way they can. Also present during the event was SM Prime President Mr. Hans Sy who also wore wings during the significant Angels Walk. 

It was indeed a very inspiring event. I hope groups for the many other disabilities could also be as organized as the ASP. Personally, I'd dearly love to see thousands from our Cerebral Palsy community to become as active as they are.

the SM Cares mascot is so cute!
Thank you ASP and the rest of the autism community for the inspiration and congratulations because I believe you have just broken a world record yesterday morning. I'm looking forward to a formal announcement about it, soon :) 

* If you were there, check this Facebook album to see if I caught you, or your friends, on camera :)

Post a Comment