MANILA - Four Filipinos brought pride and honor to the country as they gained recognition at the 7th International Naturally Autistic Persons (INAP) Awards. The awards ceremony was held during the 2016 World Autism Festival, which took place from September 30 to October 5, 2016, in Vancouver, Canada.
Rhodora Palomar-Fresnedi, Executive Director of Unilab Foundation (ULF), was awarded First Place in the Community Mentor Category, for her leadership in enabling the hiring of Persons with Autism (PWAs) in the Philippines through ULF’s Project Inclusion. Since its inception in 2013, Project Inclusion has placed 48 Persons with Disability (PWD), half of whom are on the autism spectrum.
Gifted soprano Vell Baria, diagnosed with autism at the age of three, was awarded First Place in the Performing Arts Category.
Other Filipinos who gained distinction were Teacher Archie David, Executive Director of Independent Living Learning Center (ILLC), and “Mr. Proudly Autistic,” Vico Cham.
David, a local authority in the fields of community-based rehabilitation and Life Skills Training, was given Special Recognition in the Community Mentor Category for Project Therapy, Education and Assimilation of Children with Handicap (TEACH), an innovative community-based rehabilitation (CBR) program considered as among the best practice models in the field.
Cham, Apolinario Mabini 2016 PWD of the Year Special Awardee, as well as international speaker, artist, and ambassador, was given Special Recognition in the Visual Arts Category, for his exceptional talent in painting on different media, including piña fabric.
Cham is Project Inclusion employee number one and has been employed with ULF for more than three years now.
The INAP Awards recognizes PWAs who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, performing, and literary arts, as well sports, technology, and entrepreneurship. Awards are also given to notable groups and individuals who have made outstanding contributions as leaders, mentors, and trailblazers for the inclusion of PWAs in society.
Talented persons with autism, and champions of PWA from 26 countries come together and celebrate the unique contributions of persons on the autism spectrum across the globe.
Best from the Philippines
The Filipino delegates showcased Filipino talent and contributions during the festival workshops on October 3, showing the best of and the best from the Philippines to 25 other nations represented in the event.
Palomar-Fresnedi shared her vision for a healthier, more inclusive Philippines. She talked about the system and management science she established in Project Inclusion to enable the gainful employment of PWAs. Cham shared his talent in painting on piña fabric with other PWAs, while David talked about his work on CBR and Life Skills Training, and Transition-To-Work Education.
This is the second year that Filipinos have joined the Festival.
The World Autism Festival is an annual event that brings together talented PWAs from all over the world; as well as movers and shakers for PWA inclusion in different countries. The festival is organized by the Autistic Network of Community Achievers (ANCA), a consultancy firm based in Vancouver, Canada; and the ANCA Foundation.
In main photo, Filipino pride (L-R): Teacher Archie David, Rhodora Palomar-Fresnedi, Vell Baria, and Vico Cham bring honor to the country as recipients of the International Naturally Autistic Persons Award.