Thursday, March 2, 2023

At the 2023 Happy Walk for Down Syndrome, which will be led by DSAPI, SM Cares reiterates its support for "mga Natatanging Nilalang."

"Today, we express our love once again to our special friends in our midst. Today, we show that we care about their well-being. Today, we show that we shall always walk in solidarity to ensure that they have a bright future. We walk today because we seek to foster love, understanding, and hope through this yearly activity, because we act to get integration of persons with disabilities in our community. We want to bring positive change to ensure that people with Down Syndrome have opportunities to contribute and have their rights guaranteed. This SM Cares Program on Disability Affairs is something that is etched already in our business. We don't just do programs for short-term. If we may mention, this is our 16th year of partnership with DSAPI. We are not doing this just for fun. We are doing this because we believe this is the right thing to do.~Engr. Bien Mateo, SM Cares Program Director for Persons with Disabilities

DSAPI and SM Cares have jointly organized the event for 16 years, making this its 20th year overall. After three years, this was also the first time it was held in person, simultaneously in Manila, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, and Bacolod.

Apart from Mateo, DSAPI President Luis Harder, DSAPI Chairman Elmer Lapena, and SM Prime Chairman Hans Sy were among the important people who attended the event. Various advocacy groups and communities with Down syndrome were also represented at the event.

From left: Agnes Lapeña, Executive Committee of DSAPI; Engr. Bien C. Mateo, SVP of SM Supermalls and SM Cares Director for Persons with Disability; Hans Sy, Chairman of Executive Committee of SM Prime Holdings; ‘Natatanging Nilalang’ kids Oscar Rodriguez and Adeline Harder; and Luis Harder, President of DSAPI welcome back one of the largest events in the Philippines that promote acceptance & inclusion for all persons with Down Syndrome.

This year, the Manila leg had 3768 participants, while the final numbers for Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, and Bacolod were 580, 140, and 250, respectively. 4,738 people attended the nationwide event in total.

From SM Supermalls, SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc., SM Engineering Design and Development, SM Hotels and Conventions Corp., SM Markets, SM Prime Holdings Inc., SM Development Corp., SM Lifestyle Entertainment, Inc., and SM Family Entertainment Center Inc., 354 SM employees and companions participated in Manila Happy Walk.

SM Cares reiterates support for "mga Natatanging Nilalang" at 2023 Happy Walk for Down Syndrome led by DSAPI

The Happy Walk Parade, in which people with Down syndrome and their loved ones walked together through the SM Mall of Asia Complex, was one of the highlights. The parade, which is held every year, is a way for people with Down syndrome and their families to spread understanding, appreciation, and awareness of the condition.

The National University Pep Squad gave a powerful performance and led a cheer to raise awareness of Down syndrome before the parade. Andrea Torres, an actor and advocate for Down syndrome awareness, performed dazzling song and dance numbers later in the event. She also shared a short message about how important it is to care for people with the disease, as she is a sister to one.

National University Pep Squad performances brought smiles to all the kids during the event.

Andrea Torres’ performances brought smiles to all the kids during the event.

The Dance ShowDOWN, in which a number of children with Down syndrome performed on stage, was another noteworthy aspect of the event. Throughout the course of the half-day event, a number of booths offered games and drawing activities to the attendees. To make it even more exciting, there were raffle draws in which winners received gift certificates, insurance packages, gadgets, and a 4K smart TV.

Children with Down syndrome performed a dance number to Ronnie Lee's "Natatanging Nilalang," which served as the event's finale. Lee's song is a song of empowerment for both the people with Down syndrome and their loved ones. It was written with a fondness for those with the condition because he has a nephew with the condition.

Mr. Hans Sy, Chairman of Executive Committee of SM Prime Holdings, and a long-time supporter of PWD activities and events, celebrated with the kids and families at #HappyWalk2023.

The annual Happy Walk for Down Syndrome brings together people with Down syndrome and their loved ones for a day of family-friendly entertainment and fun. It is held every February as part of National Down Syndrome Consciousness Month to raise awareness of the condition and gain a better understanding of those who live with it.

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

The annual Angels Walk, which is organized in partnership with the Autism Society of the Philippines and takes place every January to mark National Autism Consciousness Week, is one of SM Cares' other PWD-friendly initiatives; the annual Sensitivity Training for Customers with Disabilities, which teaches mall employees and security guards how to care for PWDs; and the annual Emergency Preparedness Forum, which teaches people with disabilities and elderly people what to do in an emergency.

SM Supermalls' Corporate Social Responsibility division, SM Cares, offers environmental, community, and social inclusion initiatives. Programs for the Environment, Women & Breastfeeding Mothers, Children & Youth, Senior Citizens, and the SM Bike-friendly initiative are among its advocacy initiatives.

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