Angels Walk for Autism celebrates neurodiversity

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    The Autism Society of the Philippines (ASP), together with SM Cares, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings, is held the annual Angels Walk for Autism on January 26, at the Mall of Asia Arena, as the closing ceremony to the Philippine National Autism Consciousness Week.

    Autism is a complex and lifelong developmental exceptionality, challenging an individual’s ability to communicate, socialize and adapt to the world around him. This spectrum condition manifests uniquely in different persons and may or may not be coupled with sensory and intellectual disabilities. It is a variation of the human condition affecting approximately 1.2 million Filipinos.

    “The Angels Walk for Autism began in 2007 as awareness-raising with only 200 people,” said Mona Magno-Veluz, ASP National President. “Now, with more than 20,000 registered participants, the event has become a celebration of how far we have come in appreciating human diversity and how the international, the public and the private sectors are heeding our call for acceptance, accommodation and appreciation of persons on the spectrum through relevant, tangible programs.”

    “SM Supermalls is happy to support ASP in the Angels Walk for Autism, and to help nurture an active autism advocacy ecosystem all over the country,” shares Engr. Bien Mateo, SVP for Mall Operations and Program Director of SM Cares Program on PWD’s. SM is also hosting smaller Angels Walks for Autism in other malls all over the country – such as Angeles, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, Lagro, Lucena and Olongapo.

    ASP welcomed cash donations before the program, to be donated to the efforts of the SM Foundation Inc towards providing needed emergency healthcare to evacuees of the Taal Volcano eruption. The Provinces of Batangas, Cavite, Laguna are home to several of ASP’s 98 chapters.

    This year’s Angels Walk for Autism showcased the talents of individuals on the autism spectrum with a pre-walk show. It also recognized visionary contributions of the growing community of advocates. With thousands of participants, the community will attempted to do the biggest the “Tala” dance challenge yet — with steps simplified for the mobility or coordination levels of all!

    The Hans T. Sy Leadership Award for Inclusion and Welfare, the ASP’s highest recognition, celebrating exemplary leadership that has significant and positive impact on advancing ASP’s vision of acceptance, accommodation and appreciation of persons with autism in an Autism-OK Philippines, was bestowed on John and Harvey Chua, the creative giants behind the Photography with a Difference advocacy.