To continuously promote its advocacy to help children with autism, SM Cares, a division of SM Foundation Inc. that handles the corporate social responsibility programs of SM Prime Holdings, Inc., recently held Angels Walk 2017 last Sunday, February 5.
Over 22, 000 participants which consists of families, persons with autism, volunteers, advocates and supporters from SM Group of Companies and varied regions and provinces flock to the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City, took part in the activities and fun games that were conducted during the event.
SM Cares Programs on Persons with Disabilities Director Bien C. Mateo said that this advocacy started when a boy with autism got lost in one of their malls.
“During that time, nobody from our organization knew how to handle the kid. We eventually thought of inviting the Autism Society of the Philippines to train us on how to handle this kind of situation,” he said.
“We should know how to handle children with autism. We have to find a way to learn how to spot them when they are in our business environment.”
The Angels Walk 2017 was held in observance of the Philippine National Autism Consciousness Week (NACW) starting February 5 until 11, 2017. It aims to further promote awareness, acceptance, and inclusion of people with autism.
“It is part of our advocacy to make sure that the community knows things about autism so they can also help people with autism. We teach this to all our employees because we want them to bring this lesson to their homes, so we can reach out to different levels of the society,” said Mateo.
The event featured special performances from the National University (NU) Pep Squad and persons with autism (PWA) performers. Also in store was the awarding of the ASP Autism Achievement Angel Awards (A5) to PWAs who have excelled in international and national competitions, and the signing in of the new trustees of the Autism Society Philippines and the Philippine Society of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics.
Mateo, on behalf of SM Cares, is hopeful that Angels Walk will be able to continue reaching out more people, not only SM employees but the whole community, to be part of this advocacy.
“We will continue to support communities and promote this advocacy of inclusion and awareness for all persons with autism. SM, being a mall for all, means no one gets left behind. Every Filipino, with or without disability, is welcome in SM.” (With reports from Jay Rempis, Maria Bettina Cabreza, and Angelu Zafe)