Angels Walk for Autism: From awareness to acceptance
The 2017 edition of Angels Walk for Autism recently drew 24,000 participants at SM Mall of Asia Arena, breaking last year’s record of 16,000.
Launched 17 years ago with just a handful of families gathering on Roxas Boulevard, Angels Walk has come a long way in raising awareness about autism and educating the public on how to best deal with the condition.
This year’s staging, led by Autism Society Philippines (ASP), marked a shift in the advocacy to promoting “acceptance” of people with autism.
On this note, ASP president Mona Veluz reported that more than 200 people with autism had found employment in various companies through ASP.
“Now we are seeing more companies accepting diversity. There had been a spike for the past year because previously there were only handful but now we have more people with autism gainfully employed in various companies,” she said.
In previous years, companies hired people with autism mainly out of charity, Veluz noted, but today companies are employing them because they recognize of the capability and unique talent of people with autism.
An example has been set by the SM SaveMore grocery chain, she said, adding: “Our boys are valued (in the stores) because they have excellent spatial skills. They have a good sense of order so that is useful in managing stocks.”
Angels Walk is held in partnership with SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings Inc., and MOA Arena.
According to Bien Mateo, project manager of SM Cares’ Program for People with Disabilities, SM will hire more people with autism in the coming months in and outside Metro Manila.