Ten years ago, Dolores Cheng formed The Center for Possibilities Foundation (CFP).
“It was my own coming to terms with the condition of my son,” she shares. Andreas, now 22, was diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay when he was 3 years old.
“There were no support groups for his particular type of disability, I didn’t know where to go, who to see, where to find what I needed to know. I wanted to understand what it meant to raise a child with special needs. So I thought that maybe if I formed a group of my own, I would be able to ring a call to other people who might be in the same boat and need some help,” Dolores continues.
The vision and mission of CFP revolves around inclusion, having a compassionate society that includes persons with special needs into the mainstream population. Even the way CFP is set up reflects this vision of inclusion. “We come from different backgrounds, different types of families and family lives, it represents how the world is,” Dolores points out.
The CFP board is composed of finance expert Renato Reyes, educators Cynthia and Lito Gonzalez; restaurateurs, car enthusiasts, and civic leaders, Vangie and Dieter Jaehn; mommy blogger Michelle Ressa Aventajado, jeweller Geeta Chulani, producer Yvonne de Paula, co-parent of a special child Totoy Garcia, publisher Maricris Lim Pineda, accomplished netizen Mark Ignacio, and spiritual adviser Fr. Gerard Deveza.For the past decade, CFP has engaged in teaching skills and promoting inclusion in underserved sectors through support groups, literature, film showing, and orientation. They’ve published books regarding persons with special needs and organized events such as special football tournaments that allow the athletic inclinations of the kids to shine.
Their biggest project to date is “Yakap”.
Produced by Dolores and directed by Danny Añonuevo,
the film provides a glimpse into a day in the lives of three people: Evangeline “Gelli” Aventajado, a 4-year-old with Down Syndrome; Heart2Heart was so happy to meet Mommy Michelle Aventajado @mommanmanila and her daughter Gelli. Gelli is 5 years old and makes her family more special because everyone takes part in taking care of her and loving her. We sometimes think that being a parent of a special child is a suffering or a burden given to us by God, but it’s not true. And Gelli and her 3 other siblings and parents prove that. #H2HGivingBack #Yakap #centerforpossibilities @centerforpossibilities #embraceddifference
Aaron Joshua “AJ” De Quiroz, an 8-year-old with epilepsy, Autism, and Global Developmental Delay;
and Kevin Avelino, a 45-year-old with Global Developmental Delay. Mommy Lydia here in the photo
“The stories are told from the points of view of their parents. Nothing was scripted, everything that you will see is natural and unplanned,” describes Dolores.
“More than a film, we are presenting profiles of true courage. Courage of the children whose disabilities are the only reality they have ever known, and who live their lives the only way they know how, in spite of curious stares, pointing fingers, and hidden smiles. And the courage of parents and family members who may have grown up thinking normal was everything but ended up learning that different can be the new normal”. Music for “Yakap” was composed by Jessie Lasaten and the post production color grading was done by Issa Gonzalez. The 54-minute film is capped off by a music video with lyrics that Dolores wrote with music by Charo Unite.
“Yakap means to embrace. In line with CFP’s vision, we wish for all children with disability to be embraced into the mainstream of our lives and to be treated the way we treat each other — with compassion, respect, dignity and acceptance,” says Dolores. CFP hopes to bring the film to different places and generate more awareness for the need to respect the potential and promise of persons with special needs. “We would be very happy to do special screenings. We can visit schools and would be more than willing to tie up with community organizations,” she volunteers.
The group is also on a quest to build and operate Special Education (SPED) Centers for indigent communities, for children with special needs who are undiagnosed and untreated. Their Sagada SPED Center is now open. The Norzagaray, Bulacan SPED Center is expected to start running later this year. And the Tacloban and Sorsogon SPED Centers are scheduled to operate sometime in 2017. The Centers are brick and mortar structures with tables, surrounded with stimulating materials, equipment, and learning tools that can be used to teach children the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Each SPED Center will be operated by a teacher trained in the SPED division of Reach International School. “In many parts of the country, especially in remote areas, there is no government center dedicated to the identification, recognition, much less support and treatment for persons with special needs. Many special children are physically mature but have cognitive and behavioral challenges so it is imperative that we create centers of learning that can teach them some skills with which they can live with some form of independence and dignity,” elaborates Dolores. Enrolment in the SPED Center is free so it helps alleviate the cost of taking care of special children from the families. These centers will also include parent support groups.
Special screenings of “Yakap” may be arranged through CFP at centerforpossibilities.asia or (02) 723-1242 / (0918) 888-1759.
“Yakap” is supported by Rustan’s Commercial Corporation, Gruppo Mobili Philippines, Inc., AY Foundation, Inc., Royal Duty Free Subic, Marks & Spencer, Mamou Restaurant, Ralph’s Wines & Spirits, Rustan Marketing Corporation, Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc., Leslie Corporation – Clover Chips, Miladay, Orogem, The Phinma Foundation, Inner Peace Foundation Inc. Manila, Music Master (Music School & Recording Arts), nananadal Public Relations & Events Management, Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star, Crossover 105.1 FM, and Retro DCG –FM – 105.9.
Definition of terms (lifted from Wikipedia)
Down Syndrome also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all, or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, characteristic facial features, and mild to moderate intellectual disability.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior.
Global Developmental Delay is an umbrella term used when children are significantly delayed in their cognitive and physical development. There is usually a more specific condition which causes this delay, such as Fragile X syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities.