By Karen Ann Navarro
In celebration of the National Children’s Month, Special Achievers presents a documentary titled “Posible: SPED Students’ Pursuit of the Arts” on November 10, 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at SM Mall of Asia, Cinema 1.
Special Achievers is a non-government organization that helps children and youth with disabilities reach their full potential. This premiere is in partnership with SM Cares and SM Cinema. The 45-minute documentary features the training of 35 special education (SPED) students from San Antonio National High School in Makati. Special Achievers brought professionals in the fields of music, dance, visual arts, creative arts and culinary arts in the public school to train the SPED students for 3 months. These mentors collaborated with the SPED teachers in the school and volunteer occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists.
The first run of Special Achievers’ training did not only help the students develop their abilities in their chosen art but also taught them life skills such as sustaining attention, working independently, working with others, creative thinking, and critical thinking. It also improved their self-confidence and self-esteem. The parents and teachers of these students were also given free training for seven sessions before the start of the program. The NGO also conducted monthly meetings during the program implementation. Juliet Manuel relates: “We have an opportunity which we don’t know of. Special Achievers surprised us. Hence, I grabbed it. So, if I have shortcomings with my son, I can learn and my son can also prepare for the future when I’m not there anymore.”
In the Philippines, there is still a stigma around disability. Students with disabilities are often seen as less capable than their peers and are often the targets of bullying. John Michael Brecino, one of the Special Achievers’ students relates: “I want to show that I can be independent. I can be normal. I can keep pace with what’s being done in school. This is what I want to show so they would not be afraid of us.” “Disability exists because we put a limit to what a child with a disability can do,” says Special Achievers co-founder Karen Navarro. “But if we open to persons with a disability, they can be independent. They can be artists and reach whatever it is they want to reach. If we open our understanding, if we open our communities, it’s possible,” she says.