People with special needs (PWSNs) often find themselves surrounded by stigma which includes an in-group versus out-group (us versus them) perspective from people without special needs. Breaking this barrier built around people with special needs is what the Ateneo Special Education Society, SPEED, advocates for. SPEED aims to promote an inclusive society wherein PWSNs are not just tolerated, but accepted and celebrated. One of SPEED’s efforts towards achieving this goal is through recreating a cafe setting where the service will be provided by experienced PWSNs in a project called A Special Cafe (ASC).
Many lack understanding of the condition of PWSNs and fail to see their heartwarming zeal for even the simplest of things. Focusing merely on the shortcomings of the sector gives rise to degrading labels, such as “abnormal”, the r-word, and everything in between. PWSNs are treated differently, excluded, and even ridiculed when in reality, they deserve love and respect just like everybody else. A Special Cafe allows PWSNs to show their potential and capability to serve and help others, proving that they are not always on the receiving end of others’ help.
A Special Cafe aims to empower PWSNs in the workforce, provide an avenue for them to experience a different working environment, and raise awareness for their various capabilities.
Through a genuine display of their skills in the workplace, A Special Cafe aims to debunk the misconception that PWSNs’ conditions hinder them from effectively accomplishing their duties. With the PWSN workers, it’s not difficult to feel at home with their friendly faces, and over the course of the week, customers will find that they will enjoy the welcoming company of PWSNs. Their sheer passion and undying smiles can rival even the warmth of the coffee that they serve.
With a summer beach theme, come relax at the Colayco Pavilion of the Ateneo de Manila University from March 18–22. Let us celebrate the strength of PWSNs as we take a step closer to a society that showers them with the love and understanding that they deserve.