Filipino students to cochair int’l youth leaders summit
Filipino students Brina Maximo and Sashi Montaña, both 19, cochaired this year’s Social Impact Summit held from July 23-28 in Los Angeles, California.
Held simultaneously with the biennial Special Olympics World Games, the Social Impact Summit is an international convention of youth leaders from different countries.
It aims to generate and implement actionable ideas that can educate, motivate and activate individuals, particularly the youth, to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in community life and activities.
Kaye Samson of Special Olympics Philippines, said the Special Olympics was “not an event but a movement” and should not be confused with the Paralympics, which is for people with physical disabilities.
She said the Special Olympics showed that people with intellectual disabilities had “real needs, high hopes, big dreams and families” that cared for them.
Summit cochair Maximo was one of those people Samson described. Maximo, supported by her family, did not let her disability keep her from pursuing her education and gain acceptance.
Graduating class valedictorian in primary school, Maximo will receive her Bachelor of Arts in History diploma next year. In her spare time, she is an assistant to a teacher handling a class of students with intellectual disabilities.
“I want to be happy and to be accepted in the community,” Maximo said.
Cochair martial arts athlete Montaña, an incoming freshman at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, has been a Special Olympics volunteer since 2012.
She said she started volunteering at a young age to help persons with disabilities.
“I really have had a deep love for people with disabilities since I was young,” Montaña said.
Maximo and Montaña were elected during the Global Youth Activation Summit in 2013 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The Filipino pair presented their project “Eye Can Play: A Healthy Eyeffair” at the summit.
The “edutainment” project aimed to help Special Olympics athletes, their families and caregivers learn more about the importance of a healthy vision.
It used vision test and hand-eye coordination activities, like interactive computer games, puzzles, giant word search, etc. to discover eyesight problems among athletes that might require vision solutions.
The summit integrated the Special Olympics’ Opening Eyes Program, which gave vision and eye health screening for the athletes.
At a presummit press conference, Dr. Emelita Roleda, general manager of Essilor Philippines, said individuals with intellectual disabilities comprised the biggest disability group. They were also more likely to have vision problems.
Roleda said Essilor Vision Foundation, Essilor’s public charity arm and global sponsor of the World Games Special Olympics 2015 and Social Impact Summit, “helps people with intellectual disabilities” and had “provided prescription, protective eyewear and vision counseling” for participants of the twin events.
The foundation, she said, had provided more than 100,000 Special Olympics athletes with eyewear and vision counseling.
Samson said the Philippines was sending 35 athletes and 15 coaches and officials to the Special Olympics. The athletes were competing in aquatics, athletics, badminton, bowling, unified 5-a-side football, rhythmic gymnastics and powerlifting.
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