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April 7th, 2017:

[News] Benilde Lights It Up Blue for World Autism Awareness Month

De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, an inclusive college in Manila Philippines, held a Light It Up Blue (LIUB) event on April 3, 2017 at their iconic School of Design and Arts building at P. Ocampo St., Manila. 

The event was organized by Benilde’s Center for Inclusive Education (CIE). A short program started at 645PM with welcoming remarks from Dr. Catherine Deen, CIE Director followed by an inspiring message by Br. Dennis Magbanua, FSC, Benilde President. The LIUB ceremony was launched by a Benilde Bachelor of Arts in Animation student Mr. Ramon Tan. An excerpt of his speech is quoted below:

“As a student of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, it warms my heart that we are one with the world tonight in celebrating this event. Truly, we are on our way to a more inclusive community. It is with great gratitude that I stand here before you as a student who has experienced the passion and dedication of Benilde in creating an inclusive learning environment. May this gesture of lighting up our school’s facade not just serve as a decoration but a way of instilling in our hearts awareness and empathy for all those people living with autism everywhere.”

The President of the Autism Society of the Philippines Ms. Mona Magno Veluz graced the event and she mentioned that Benilde is the first school in the Philippines to hold a Light It Up Blue event. 

 

[News] Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for ISB’s Intensive Learning Needs Program

 

On Tuesday, February 28th, honored guest Khun Ploypailin Jensen, granddaughter of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, presided over a ribbon cutting ceremony for ISB’s new Intensive Learning Needs Classroom. Students enrolled in this program will begin school in August of 2017.

The first intensive learning needs classroom will be taught by special educator Lori Boll, and will cater to six elementary-school aged students. In coming years, we will open a Middle School and High School classroom, taking students from PreK through graduation at ISB. The program is designed for students with developmental or intellectual disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, cerebral palsy, and Down’s Syndrome, or global developmental delays.

Mr. Andrew Davies, Head of School, International School of Bangkok

ISB has been working towards becoming a more inclusive school for more than 5 years. In January 2016, the Board of Trustees approved the founding of an Intensive Learning Needs program at ISB, based on the belief that families that wish to work abroad should have access to an education that meets the needs of all of their children, and that siblings should be able to attend school together as often as possible. We believe that our community will be enriched by the inclusion of more diverse learners.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by over 100 guests including foreign dignitaries, officials and representatives from various schools and agencies in the area. The food was catered by Steps With Theera, a coffee shop and vocational training center which supports young adults with special education needs transition to sustainable employment opportunities.

This event would not have happened without the hard work of many people. We wish to extend a thank you everyone who helped with the event. The Thai PTA team, ISB PTA, and ISB Building and Grounds were instrumental in planning the event. Khun Rarin Punjarungroj donated cut-outs to explain the learning that will take place. ISB students from the HS Graphic Design club created informational signs and Middle School Best Buddies helped welcome the visitors.

Students, staff, and families at ISB are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new students. Natalia Yepes, a grade 7 student is particularly excited, “ I think that both the students with special needs and the other kids from ISB will benefit from this. The kids coming won’t be isolated and they will interact with the ISB community and be with students from ISB for friends and help. Students from ISB will learn about them. They will learn about acceptance…”.

In the next several months, multiple awareness campaigns will take place at school to help current students learn about their new schoolmates. Tips on how to introduce this with your own children will be provided to parents as well.

ISB is proud to join the ranks of just a few international schools in the world with such a program, and excited about the options it will provide for families of students with special needs.

Article contributed by Lori Boll

[News] Best Buddies launch at International School Bangkok

“A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.“

                                                                                                          ― Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh understands the importance of friendship. Everyone needs a friend,  and that is why a new club was formed in the International School Bangkok (ISB) middle school this year. ISB Best Buddies started in October. It’s mission: to spread awareness of students with special needs, advocate for their rights, and to form everlasting friendships between students with needs and those without.

Best Buddies International was originally started by Anthony K. Shriver in 1989 to foster one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Their website, www.bestbuddies.org boasts that “Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with IDD.” International chapters of Best Buddies have popped up around the world as more and more people connect to the importance of such an organization.

ISB Best Buddies have worked to accomplish many things this year. The first is to spread awareness. The group has started a campaign to end the “R-word” (retarded) when used to describe silly or goofy actions by others. This word is used by many and it is offensive to people who have intellectual disabilities and their families. The culminating event for this campaign will be in late March at a middle school assembly. ISB Middle School students will be encouraged to take a pledge to end the “R-word” and signify that pledge by wearing a wrist-band. The next major project is to spread the word about Autism Awareness month, which is coming up in April.

The Best Buddies group has a major role in opening up the new Intensive Needs classroom at ISB, opening in August of 2017. They helped put together work tasks, cut out piles of visuals, and created sensory calming bottles for the new students. There is much more work to be done and the buddies are up for the task.

Many of our Best Buddies also helped with the Special Olympics event that was held here in November. Several others participated in the ServICE convention and three of our members presented about our club in front of an audience of over 300 students and teachers.

Next school year, Best Buddies will open up to the entire school. We will have six new students in our intensive needs program, and our current students are excited to interact and forge new friendships with the incredible students coming our way. Hannah Merritt, one of our 7th grade Buddies exclaims, “I can’t wait to meet these kids!”

Neither can the rest of us.

Article Contributed by Lori Boll

Initially Published in “Mission.” Best Buddies International. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.