In its pursuit of an inclusive society, the Ateneo Special Education Society (Ateneo SPEED) organizes several events to get the outside community involved in the sector, and thereby spreading awareness about the cause.
From October 23 to 27, the Ateneo Special Education (SPEED) held Its annual SPEED Week event. Among the many booths lined along LS Promenade for the week was Spectrum, one of Ateneo SPEED’s fundraising project intended to promote artwork created by persons with special needs (PWSNs).
If you were passing by the area, you would likely be approached by one of many eager roving promoters for the event, likely holding up a poster featuring a sampling of the various items available for purchase at Spectrum. If their impassioned spiel endorsing the booth and the spirit of advocacy it embodied was enough to convince you, they’d lead you on to the booth so you could see the merchandise for yourself. Upon reaching the Neverland-themed booth you’d see various shirts, caps, and stickers hanging around the display racks, as well as paintings featuring similar artworks by PWSNs hanging on an exhibit next to the booth. You could then take your pick among the designs if any one of them caught your fancy, with each one featuring the name of the talented PWSN artist behind the design.
This year, Spectrum really expanded the scope of merchandise offered to its buyers and promoted the organization’s advocacy with clothing featuring creative artworks as well as witty and meaningful statements promoting the message of SPEED. The selection of goods proved to be a hit among customers, many of whom pre-ordered the items that they personally felt were relevant to them. Overall, Spectrum succeeded in promoting SPEED’s advocacy for this year’s SPEED Week and will hopefully keep continuing to do so for the years to come.
Written by: Miguel Luis A. Vasallo, MA Psychology
Becoming hyperfocused. Having constant spurts of energy. Being impulsive and spontaneous. Those are some facts that about Attention Deficit / Hyperactive Disorder (AD/HD), a special condition that is spotlighted in SPEED’s Speak Out pledge week this year.
This year’s Speak Out aims to raise awareness about the AD/HD sector within the Ateneo community. By pledging in the booth (and the optional decision to donate money to SPEED’s partner institutions), Ateneans were encouraged to know more people about AD/HD, to understand their needs as people, to look beyond their condition and to embrace and love them as part of a larger happy, inclusive society.
SPEED President Alimee Pagulayan hopes that Speak Out will encourage more initiatives to support persons will AD/HD and other PWSNs within the Ateneo. “Whether it’s a personal form of support, such as genuinely getting to know persons with ADHD, or a structural form of support done by the university to accommodate PWSNs, we hope that people would see the need for it and be able to do something about it,” she expressed.
Written by: Joel Anthony Lim, 4 AB Interdisciplinary Studies
It’s as if the DC and Marvel universes conspired to allow NSL 2017 to run as smoothly and successfully as it did last April 2, 2017.
As Ateneo SPEED welcomed the month of April, its biggest project yet, No Speed Limit: Run With Someone Special was held. After a short hiatus, No Speed Limit is back, and is now held inside the Ateneo de Manila University.
Tagged as #NSL2017, No Speed Limit is a benefit run that aims to foster a more inclusive society for persons with special needs (PWSNs) by raising awareness and encouraging the participation of individuals from inside and outside the Ateneo. It aims to show that PWSNs have no limits–they are productive, effective, and a joy to be with. This year, the project’s beneficiary is Project TEACH: Project Therapy, Education, and Assimilation of Children with Handicap, a community-based program that caters to indigent youth with disabilities.
In the said event, participants were able to join in the 3K, 5K, and 10K categories. The 10K run began at around 5:30 in the morning, while the 5K and 3K started fifteen and thirty minutes after, respectively. Blue Eagles Isaac Go, Shaggy Allmond, and Kris Porter led the warm ups.
PWSNs from SPEED’s partner areas were also given the chance to join in the fun through the Buddy Walk, a category where they are able to walk (or run) with the NSL runners.
The project team and volunteers surely had to sacrifice a lot of their time and energy for this project, but seeing how fulfilled the participants were, and how successful the event was, I’m pretty sure it was all worth it. And if we’re being consistent with NSL 2017’s superhero theme, at the core of this project is to make us all realize that, indeed, we can be heroes in our own little ways. Whether it be by championing PWSN rights, advocating for a more inclusive society, or the act of simply trying to understand and engage with those who most of society deem “different”, there is humility and compassion–those that make the heart of a true hero–in each one of us.
Last March 20-22, the Ateneo Special Education Society (SPEED) held A Special Café, which is the first of its kind for the organization. If one happened to walk by Colayco Pavilion and caught sight of the vibrant green S-P-E-E-D letters, written chalk-board menu, cookie-and cup-shaped decor, this was where the magic was happening!
Seeing Colayco Pavilion, a familiar place commonly used by organizations for their respective events or Tambay Weeks, dressed up in an al fresco type of way really added to the café ambiance. There were long and circular tables jazzed up with white and green table cloths, mason jars with paper flowers as centerpieces, a soft breeze billowing from the ceiling fans, and an acoustic playlist crooning over the entire venue. It was totally transformed into an intimate space one could relax and unwind in–whether to study for an upcoming test or to bond with friends–all the while getting their regular caffeine fix and pastries in the comfort of school. But this alone was not why SPEED had created such an event.
In fact, it may have surprised the average passerby that the PWSNs clad in green aprons and button pins were the ones taking orders and delivering it to the customers. This was why the project was set up in the first place, as it hit right at the heart of the organization’s advocacy to promote a more inclusive spaces for PWSNs. Often, there is the stigma attached to PWSNs that causes some people to fear what they do not understand. The hardworking Speple (SPEED members) composed of the project heads and the various core committees aimed for this project to bridge the gap by having an opportunity for interaction between the PWSNs and the Ateneo community.
The seed of inspiration came from the existing business model of Puzzle Café. The logo is aptly symbolized by a jigsaw piece, the international symbol for autism. Not to be confused with Puzzles, the board game restaurant, Puzzle Café is distinct in its own right as the members of its staff are diagnosed Autism, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy, and have trained as either waiters or kitchen assistants. The concept for the restaurant arose from the Canoy family’s initiative to set-up a place where their son and brother, Jose, who has been diagnosed with Autism, could be given the chance to work.
As the restaurant began to expand, the Canoy family began to receive calls from schools and parents of other PWSNs who wanted to join, too. It was then that they realized that what initially started as a simple café, became one rooted in an even greater advocacy. It is where persons with special needs can be themselves openly and without judgment. Here, they feel safe knowing that it is especially for them; it is a space where they can showcase their abilities and serve people who view their conditions at a more positive light. Opportunities to change the way people with special needs are perceived by the general public, as well as to highlight their capabilities are what Puzzle Café aspires for.
It’s no wonder why SPEED sought the opportunity to embark on a dynamic partnership with the help and support of one of Puzzle Café’s founders, Ms. Ysabella Canoy. Throughout the three days of its run, the PWSNs, who are regular employees from Puzzle Café, were present. Anna, a twenty-two year old PWSN employee, said her favorite menu item was the coffee because “customers order that most of the times.” On the other hand, Roby, eighteen years old, who works part-time at Puzzle Café and studies at Independent Living Learning Center, enjoyed meeting new people the most. He savored the chocolate cupcake he was given because it is not a regular part of his diet due to his ADHD. Likewise, Tonio and Clariz also enjoyed interacting with the customers by taking their orders and serving it to them. Getting to play board games with those who dropped by was also very memorable for the PWSNs.
One of SPEED’s colors is green, symbolizing growth, and this was clearly embodied in the aesthetic and physical decorations present at the venue. But more than that, growth actualized for the PWSNs, the hardworking Speple who put it all together, and the Ateneo community who were witnesses to this extraordinary project. It has created small ripples of change towards those whose perceptions of PWSNs were varied. At the same time, the PWSNs present were able to encounter new people, whom they were able to have meaningful conversations with. Ask anyone present at the event and they’ll tell you that whatever they ordered–be it coffee, chocolate cupcakes, mocha cake slices, brownies, or sugar cookies–were made even more special by the rationale behind this project. Not only were they served by PWSNs; they symbolize the capacity of the special needs sector to lead fuller lives and become productive members of our society. Hopefully this will only be the beginning of more A Special Cafés in the future.
Written by Leandra Miller, 3 BS Management
Last February 25, the Ateneo Special Education Society (SPEED) held SPECTACULAR*, a concert-bazaar at Decagon Silver City. Being one of SPEED’s biggest projects, it came to no surprise that it was filled with people – PWSNS, performers, Speple (SPEED members), parents, and concessionaires. Ah, in all its spectacular branding, I was expecting something rather ordinary.
I wouldn’t have, had I been, in any way, part of the amazing team of volunteers that made that memorable night possible. And it was, indeed, memorable; Spectacular found its way into my heart in every minute of that night. It had everything you’d expect from a performer’s night, but it also added one secret ingredient known only to the Speple: the Advocacy.
The advocacy was all over the place, and I got to experience the other projects SPEED has to offer; booths for both the Speak Out!** event and the No Speed Limit*** project were in plain sight. The Speak Out! Booth, in particular, turned out to be a great source of sensitivity and awareness as it offered a virtual peek into the life lived by those diagnosed with Autism.
Past these booths was the hall where everything happened. It sure looked like it, for it was decorated from the stage all the way to the backdoors. The team was able to decorate the big venue well, from the hanging design and the bright curtains that made the atmosphere more lively and exciting. The concessionaires, offering a range of food and other products, surrounded the central area where the audience settled in. Across them are large red letters spelling the word “SPECTACULAR”, and above it, the stage set for one spectacular night.
Just about anyone could perform on stage, but the expansive cast of talents was, however, nothing short of extraordinary. The performers of the night were prepared to put on a spectacular show for everyone present, including PWSNs from the different partner areas of SPEED.
The team prepared a program flow for their performances, starting with dancers from St. Francis School. Being from a school that caters to children with impaired hearing, the students from St. Francis are trained to express themselves through the arts. Following their beautiful dance was Indayo, an all-woman indie rock band.
Then came Hanz Fausto, an interesting individual and Spectacular’s first solo performer. Hailing from New Hope, a humble institution that caters to developing those with the Autism Spectrum Disorder, Hanz is well known amongst the Speple assigned to his area. With his performance of Ed Sheeran’s Photograph, he was able to capture the hearts of everyone present.
Another band of guest performers was Over October, who showcased their skills by performing their original songs on stage, giving the audience a larger dose of rock. The boys from Servants of Charity performed next, dancing to Bang Bang in a fun and energetic way.
On to an unusual performance: the duet of Apples Daleon and Joey of Cottolengo Filipino. Apples is a member of the SPEED council who spearheaded the Advocacy Talks held last October 2016. This performance was quite memorable, owing to the special dynamic between performers—this was the only performance of the night where a Speple and a member of the sector performed together. Performing One Call Away passionately, they both sang their hearts out.
The succeeding performer was no other than Thara Santiago, an award-winning singer representing the Autism Society of the Philippines. A natural at singing, Thara performed each song with the same confidence and skill she was known for.
Some of our friends from Cottolengo performed after Thara, surely taking the audiences’ attention when they danced to Trumpets. The boys from Cottolengo were stealing cheers from the crowds quite effortlessly, having fun all the while.
To end the night, the last guest performer was the band Ashley’s Kryptonite who, despite missing one member, was able to close the night in a rather fashionable way by performing both their original songs and classic Original Pinoy Music.
“Spectacular” seemed to be a word that grew on me, and I certainly could describe the event that way; as halfway into the show I was smiling dumb. By the time it reached 11 o’clock, everything just sort of sunk in. Spectacular was amazing, and I’m sure everyone felt the same way that I did. Around me, clad in their distinct yellow and white t-shirts were my fellow SPEED volunteers, moving hastily to make Spectacular amazing up until the last minute. And I am thankful for my fellow Speple for this experience. For it is in their tired faces where I saw passion and commitment—what defines the heart of a Speple.
“[P]assion and commitment—what defines the heart of a Speple.”
At the end of the night, the hosts called on stage all the volunteers and partner organizations on stage. Everyone was celebrating a night of hard work coming into fruition. Spectacular was over, and they’ve completed their goal. I surely had no right to own any of the satisfaction, as I wasn’t a volunteer, but being a Speple meant something then, and it was something I could only describe through feeling as we shared in the joy of such an event.
It’s not every day that we see something Spectacular, but on that night I witnessed it. I enjoyed the performances, and saw the hard work of the volunteers who made that spectacular night possible. I experienced first hand what it meant to be in a moment so spectacular. For a fundraising concert, this was quite the treasurable experience. Way to go, SPEED! You’ve done it again.
It’s worth celebrating the extraordinary. To some people, “extraordinary” doesn’t come every day. But the Speple know better. Someone who thrives in the advocacy of SPEED gets to experience the spectacular in the common things that matter. It’s in the people one meets, it’s in the time that one spends together with them. And on that night, I realized all the more that being spectular is a matter of the heart.
Written by Francis Andre Guevara, 4 BS Biology
*Spectacular is an annual concert and fundraiser held by the Ateneo Special Education Society. Being a project of the Finance Department, it aims to raise funds for the organization’s various programs. It was held at the Decagon, Silver City last February 25, 2017. The project’s heads were Cacai Mañalang and Paola Reyes, who worked with the Finance department and its head, Mica Morales.
**You may still pledge for sensitivity by clicking here.
About the Author: Andre Guevara is a 4 BS Biology student and a new member of Ateneo Special Education Society. Despite being new to the organization, he has participated in some of its efforts including the Advocacy Talks, Spectacular, and Community Talk.