In most developing communities, the acceptance of children with learning disorders or physical and mental handicaps is sadly lacking. Many of these children are restricted to their homes without access to any form of education or nurturing. Since our founding, Asia America Initiative has placed an emphasis on education equity for all children, regardless of their special needs. We have found wonderful educators in the Philippines in both Muslim and Christian communities who champion the establishment of Special Education [SPED] programs.
In Cuartero, Capiz, the residents are both Christian and from indigenous mountain tribes. A significant special needs program is growing at Cuartero Central School, with the largest student population in the province. Asia America Initiative has strongly supported Principal Luz Roxas Mayo in setting a model that can be replicated in many other schools. In helping the children to feel accepted the SPED program includes arts and sports activities.
During the week of September 20, 2017, a Paralympics competition was conducted in nearby Tapaz, Capiz that included the Central School and a few others with similar programs. The children competed enthusiastically in various sports activities, including running, badminton and basketball. The thrill of competition and the cheering crowd of families and friends was a great experience. Mark Frugal, SPED teacher and coach for Cuartero CS, says, “We are so proud of the effort made by all of the children. They proved that our emphasis on developing a SPED Program is not only a wonderful virtue, but empowers those incredible children to prove themselves and inspire us all.”