Monday, January 30, 2023

For National Autism Awareness Week, SM Cares and the Autism Society of the Philippines present talks on autism issues

"We want to send the message to all our mall-goers, including people with autism, that you're always welcome here at SM. This is also the perfect time for us to thank ASP for their unwavering trust and for continuously believing in our advocacies, especially those that are geared toward people with autism. We are always proud to be your companion, and we will continue to support you in your goal to create a more autism-friendly Philippines." ~Engr. Bien Mateo, SM Supermalls Senior Vice President
Autism OK advocates and celebrity parents during the AOK Pilipinas Live event

Autism Society Philippines (ASP), SM Cares, the City Government of Mandaluyong, and the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) recently held a panel discussion on autism inclusion at SM Megamall Cinema 4 on January 20 in honor of the 27th National Autism Consciousness Week.

"AOK Pilipinas, Live!," is the title. In keeping with the event's theme, "Building a Nation Powered by Transformative Autism-inclusive Innovation," meaningful discussions were held about a variety of issues affecting people on the autism spectrum and their loved ones.

Autism OK advocates and celebrity parents during the AOK Pilipinas Live event

Guests and panelists include P3PWD Representative:
  • Hon. Rowena Guanzon
  • ASP Chair Emerita Dang Koe
  • ASP National President Mona Magno-Veluz
  • Mandaluyong City former Councilor Charisse Abalos-Vargas
  • QC Kabahagi Center Executive Director Karen Sagun
  • Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines Foundation Executive Director Hazel Borja
  • SM Supermalls Assistant Vice President Richard Caluyo
  • SM Supermalls Senior Vice President Engr. Bien Mateo

Also present were celebrities Troy Montero, Aubrey Miles, and Candy Pangilinan, who are autism awareness advocates and proud parents of children with autism.

Veluz-Magno moderated the first session, which focused on the importance of innovation in addressing issues concerning people on the spectrum, with Abalos-Vargas, Sagun, Borja, and Caluyo as panelists. This was followed by the first Q&A session of the day. 

“Everything will be okay, it’s not a burden…chill lang tayo, kaya natin ‘yan.” ~Candy Pangilinan, Autism Awareness Advocates and proud parents of children with autism

Autism OK advocates and celebrity parents during the AOK Pilipinas Live event

“I feel hopeful for the future here in the Philippines, for your children, for our children. Just look around there is so much support…I just wanted you to know that you are not alone.” ~Troy Montero, Autism Awareness Advocates and proud parents of children with autism

Montero, Miles, and Pangilinan shared their stories and experiences raising children on the spectrum during the second session, which was moderated by Koe. They also provided helpful advice for other parents whose family members have autism. Additionally, the panelists assured other parents who are caring for children with autism that they are supported whenever they require it and offered their support.

Mateo thanked the ASP in his special message for always having faith in SM Cares' causes. He also said once more that SM is a mall for everyone, disabled or not.

Participants of the AOK Pilipinas Live event at SM Megamall

The event is just one of the many ways SM Cares supports the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, particularly "SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities."

SM Cares is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of SM Supermalls, with programs that support communities, promote social inclusion, and care for the environment. Aside from the program on PWDs, its advocacies include Programs for the Environment, Women & Breastfeeding Mothers, Children & Youth, Senior Citizens, and the SM Bike-friendly initiative. 

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