To make sure children with autism still get to experience the warmth and fun spirit of the holidays, SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Supermalls, hosted a special meet and greet for the kids at its several premier malls across the country. The event was held in partnership with the Autism Society Philippines (ASP).
“Christmas can be a stressful time for children on the spectrum — the crowds, the noise, the lights. This initiative from SM Supermalls to open their doors to our community so the kids can have these memorable Christmas experiences is testament to how they have genuinely embraced disability inclusion. We pray more retailers emulate this example,” said Mona Magno-Veluz, national president of Autism Society Philippines.
The kids were able to interact, play, and have their photos taken with Santa Claus together with their families, in a calmer and more mindful environment. They were also given tokens of appreciation, which included their exclusive SM Bears of Joy plushies. In some of the participating malls, the children were treated to free rides.
“Our goal is to create a barrier-free and more inclusive environment for families who have kids with special needs, so that everyone can enjoy and create wonderful memories in our malls. SM is a mall for all, and we do our best to make sure no one is left out,” said Engr. Bien Mateo, SVP Operations of SM Supermalls, and program head of SM Cares Program on PWDs.