Intellectual disability is the largest single life-long handicap existing in the Philippines today, affecting 3-7% of the population. More than 30,000 are born annually with the condition, and each passing year sees a rise in this figure. Each one of these special individuals needs the same care, attention and opportunity to be treated with respect and understanding as everyone else – because in the end, we are all human.
On the same month that Presidential Proclamation Nos. 1358 and 157 calls national attention on Down Syndrome and developmental disability, Special Olympics Philippines (SOP) calls on everyone to “Be a Fan,” a movement tapping into core attributes that everyone can appreciate – unity, acceptance, empowerment, dignity, courage, strength, pride, confidence and fun – for specialindividuals to receive the treatment they rightfully deserve, a rights based one.
“It is not disability, but personality – the capability to contribute to main society, not the condition – that makes an intellectually disabled person worthy to be treated with dignity and acceptance,” shared Anton Silos, a multi-awarded bowler from SOP, a non-profit humanitarian organization pioneered in the United States by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, created to helpindividuals with intellectual disability achieve their potentials through an organized year-round program of sports training, athletic competition, and recreation. The organization provides opportunities toindividuals , like Anton, to have enriching experiences that show courage and joy, and develop their skills and gifts. Now present in over 200 countries, SOP aims and hopes to get everyone involved in this effort.
“Be a Fan of human dignity and acceptance,” said Dr. Therese Macapagal, incumbent president of the Special Olympics Philippines board. “Be a part of the movement by advocating the message of hope to institutions, actively campaigning to stop using the word ‘retard,’ joining thousands of families who uphold the rights of special people. Theseindividuals can be helped to reach their maximum potential as human beings if we make the conscious choice to integrate them into society.”
The “Be a Fan” movement aims to change negative perceptions or attitudes concerning intellectually disabled individuals. Through the sharing of resources and information both medical and sociological; through awareness-raising partnerships with media, government, academe and social institutions, it invites the public to get involved in ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life of all special people.
*To join the “Be a Fan” movement, log on to http://www.sophilippines.org, or call 9266947 and find out how you can help and share your life with intellectually disabledindividuals and be part of a global advocacy that pushes for human dignity and acceptance.