By Analou De Vera
Advocates on Sunday encouraged different companies in the country to hire people with autism as it was a way to promote acceptance and inclusion.
People within the autism spectrum gathered at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City for this year’s “Angels Walk for Autism”, an annual event that started in 2007 that is aimed at raising awareness on individuals with autism.
The event was organized by the Autism Society of the Philippines (ASP) together with SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings.
“The event has become a celebration of how far we have come in appreciating human diversity and how the international, the public, and the private sectors are heeding our call for acceptance, accommodation, and appreciation of persons on the spectrum through relevant, tangible programs,” said ASP National President Mona Magno-Veluz.
“SM Supermalls is happy to support ASP in the Angels Walk for Autism and to help nurture an active autism advocacy ecosystem all over the country,” said Engr. Bien Mateo, SM senior vice president for mall operations.
Meanwhile, Senator Aquillino “Koko” Pimentel III said that he will continue to support the advocacy of ASP with regards to people with autism and those with disabilities.
Pimentel said that companies should give them a chance to work and showcase their capabilities.
“We have to breakdown the walls, the hesitance of the corporations, the people–to hire PWDs (persons with disabilities) including people in the spectrum,” said Pimentel.
During the event, Pancake House and Manulife Business Processing Services were recognized as ASP Autism Works Partners of the Year “for innovative practices in autism-inclusive employment.”
“It is good na merong mga [that there are] corporations na nagpakita ng [showing] openness to hire young people within the spectrum. Meron kasing [there’s really] hesitation to hire people with persons with disabilities,” said Pimentel.
“I’m very happy yung [with the] example ng [of] Pancake House, Manulife, and of course the SM Group,” he added.
The public should learn to love and understand those people with autism, said Ms. World Philippines 2019 Michelle Dee, who is also the ASP’s goodwill ambassador.
“It’s not right to laugh at people that are born with disabilities. We’re all part of the same world—we’re all part of the same nation. We need to change our mindset, we need to change our perspective, and we need to start understanding and love the people around us,” said Dee.
Organizers said that around 21,000 individuals had attended the event.