Writers: Nina Camasura and Czarina Resurreccion
Editor: Sophia Bawalan
The Ateneo Special Education Society (SPEED) annually celebrated SPEED Week as an avenue to spread awareness about the sector. Launching the event with a storybook theme, Ateneo SPEED encouraged its advocates, through a number of awareness and engagement booths, to write their stories with the sector.
True to SPEED Week’s goal of building a relationship between the sector and the Ateneo community, the storybook theme delivered the message that Persons with Special Needs (PWSNs) have their stories to share. Their tales often go unheard because many people fail to listen, but the importance of educating people about PWSN conditions go hand in hand with understanding the sector. As an avenue for acceptance, SPEED Week does exactly that through numerous activities last October 21-25.
Throughout the week, PWSN students from Precious Gem Academy, Sacred Heart, Saint Francis, and Cotto visited the university’s Zen Garden. This opportunity allowed members of the Ateneo community to interact with the PWSNs. Engaging activities highlighted these visits: lighthearted dancing, creative coloring, and easygoing chatting, among others.
Aside from engagements with PWSNs, there was also a booth for Sparkle, which was a half-day advocacy event launched on November 9. The information table called for volunteer sign-ups, and organization members encouraged Ateneans to attend the event.
Another eye-catching booth was Spectrum, with all its merchandise displayed upfront. Selling products designed by organization members and PWSNs from partner institutions, Spectrum is the organization’s fundraising effort. From SPEED’s 25th anniversary to sign language caps and advocacy stickers designed by PWSN partners, there were much in store for the Atenean buyer. Coupling the variety of items were handmade candles and woven sandals from the Saint Francis community which showcased the sector’s loving creativity.
More avenues of creativity was the SPEED Week’s makeshift freedom wall with the slogan: Different, Not Less. This was a fitting slogan because it perfectly encapsulated the Ateneo community’s sentiments: differences are beautiful. Members of the community made their thoughts tangible as they wrote messages on post-its for the PWSN sector. As SPEED Week came to a close, the wall was an abundance of loving and positive notes for the sector.
Capping off the week was a costume parade, and SPEED members wore different costumes inspired by novel characters. To name a few, Minnie Mouse and Spider Man roamed the campus with PWSNs, each sporting their own character costumes.
SPEED Week entered its final chapter through a Culminating Night which served as the perfect ending to close the week-long event. Recalling the event meant remembering diverse events, attractions, and costumes which served to emphasize uniqueness, and advocates are reminded to celebrate each individual’s differences.