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Happy Walk 2017 promotes Down Syndrome awareness, acceptance, inclusivity

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Happy Walk 2017 / CREDIT: SM Cares via Facebook / Manila Bulletin

Happy Walk 2017 / CREDIT: SM Cares via Facebook / Manila Bulletin

To promote its advocacy to raise awareness, acceptance and inclusion for all persons with Down syndrome, the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, in partnership with SM Cares, recently staged Happy Walk 2017.

SM Cares, a division of SM Foundation Inc and the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings, Inc., annually holds the Happy Walk since 2002. Now on its 15th year, Happy Walk 2017 has set a new record for having the most number of registered attendees.

Among the over 4,000 participants who flocked to the SMX in Pasay City last February 19, was #TeamMiguel of Ravida Family.

Randy Ravida, father of Miguel, a 9 year-old child with Down syndrome, said that he is very grateful for being part of SM Cares’ Happy Walk 2017. He commended the organizer’s effort in pushing for advocacies that support persons with disability (PWD).

“I am thankful for SM Cares and DSAPI for organizing an event that would strengthen our family’s relationship and makes us further understand Down syndrome. Events like this should be celebrated not just by the families who have a member with Down syndrome but by the whole world as well,” said Ravida.

“We have been participating in this event since 2012 and I can say that every year is really special. We are always looking forward to it because by attending the Happy Walk, we meet new friends, get engaged to different activities and Miguel learns something new,” he added.

SM Cares Program on PWD Director Engr. Bien Mateo attests to the fact that SM is committed to draw awareness, acceptance and inclusivity for PWD.  He said that together with DSAPI, SM Cares will continue to promote the integration of the PWD in the society. “We will keep on improving Happy Walk because it is our honor to bring happiness to the PWD, especially children with Down syndrome.”

He also ensures parents that their children with disabilities are welcome and appreciated in their business environment.

“We are in partnership with many disability organizations like DSAPI, which conducts seminars and workshops to teach our employees on how to handle customers with special needs,” said Mateo.

Happy Walk 2017 was materialized in celebration of the National Down Syndrome Consciousness Month. It was graced by US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and SM Prime’s Hans Sy.

Aside from the special performances from the Dancing Angels and guest appearance of Star Wars 501st legion that entertained the participants, there were also fun and interactive activities such as the foot parade that took place at SM MOA, several activity booths and programs that the children enjoyed.

To Ravida, Happy Walk is not just an advocacy campaign. He considers the event as an avenue for PWD to be part of the community and an opportunity to encourage more people to appreciate children with Down syndrome.

“Miguel, like most children with down syndrome, makes the family very happy,” said Ravida. “Happy Walk is an event that helps people understand children with Down Syndrome. It makes children like Miguel be part of the community and show them what it is like to be in a society that accepts and nurture them,” he added. (Jay R. Rempis)

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