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SBMA GIVES ADULTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS WORK TRAINING

Subic Bay Freeport–Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) ventured in yet another first-of-its-kind partnership, in support of the workplace immersion program for student-adults with special needs from the Vanguard Academy.

Over the weekend, SBMA officials led by SBMA Legal Department Manager Atty. Melvin Varias, together with Le Charmé Suites chief executive officer Josephine Pellicer and Meat Plus Café Group operations manager Eizon Wilmar Sampang, welcomed 11 students of the Vanguard Academy (VA) in a send-off ceremony.

The Vanguard Academy, a special education institution in Makati City, Metro Manila, has collaborated with the SBMA Labor department to send off 11 young adults with special needs to selected SBMA departments and Freeport locators where they will work as on-the-job trainees (OJTs).

“On behalf of our chairman and administrator Rolen C. Paulino, and our Senior Deputy Administrator for Support Services Atty. Ramon Agregado, I would like to congratulate the Vanguard Academy for making this possible here in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone,” said Varias.

“This pilot immersion program is noble for us because it involves students with special talents. This is unique to us. I hope that this multipartite partnership will be sustained even in the coming years because we believe that we can help prepare them for possible gainful employment in the future,” he added.

The Vanguard Academy, a special education institution in Makati City, Metro Manila, has collaborated with the SBMA Labor department to send off 11 young adults with special needs to selected SBMA departments and Freeport locators where they will work as on-the-job trainees (OJTs).

Five of them were assigned to the SBMA departments (three for Tourism and two for Law Enforcement), four to Le Charmé Suites (two each for the cafeteria and hotel front desk), and two to the Meat Plus Café.

In 2021, the VA launched the Workplace Immersion Program (WIP) on an online platform due to the pandemic. Students completed the program with the school’s partnerships with Viva Entertainment, Ayala Foundation, and Bonifacio Art Foundation, where the OJT work focused more on the visual arts skills of the students.

The Academy is also taking it up a notch this year by piloting WIP on a face-to-face platform allowing them to work on-site but with guidance by job coaches from the VA.

One of their goals is for their students to have assisted or fully independent part- or full-time employment in small or large businesses by empowering individuals of all abilities, regardless of age, diagnosis whether typical or special, that they may eventually be able to contribute to and be part of the society.

A few weeks back, the Vanguard Academy’s job coaches conducted an orientation session with its WIP partners on the basics of handling adults with special needs. Then, proceeded to assist the students as they undergo the formality of a job interview with their respective employers, and a tour of the facility the students will be working in.

Jean Patricio, Vanguard Academy director for Academics, Employment, and Independent Living Skills said that they always use the term “all abilities” to refer to different levels of abilities, whether typically developing, or individuals with autism, individuals with Down’s Syndrome, individuals with intellectual disability, or individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and so on.

One of their goals is for their students to have assisted or fully independent part- or full-time employment in small or large businesses by empowering individuals of all abilities, regardless of age, diagnosis whether typical or special, that they may eventually be able to contribute to and be part of the society.

“We are using WITH—with autism, with Down’s syndrome and not their actual names like autism, Down’s syndrome. It’s always WITH because we want to highlight that those diagnoses are just a part of them and not who they are. These individuals are more than their diagnosis,” she added.

During the opening program and send-off ceremony, the SBMA, Le Charmé Suites, Meat Plus Café, and Vanguard Academy officials sealed the agreement to formally commence the implementation of the two-week WIP of 11 adults with special needs.

The students, parents, job coaches, and even the partner establishments alike were all anxious about the implementation of the program because these adults with special needs will be away from their comfort zone for two weeks.

However, one parent, Roy Ebora, father of three student participants namely, Kyle Kurt and John, said that the WIP is very well appreciated.

“From my perspective, this kind of program brings hope to parents like me that they will learn life skills. To people who are not in the normal spectrum, as development psychologists call it, having life skills is actually not that simple. And as we know, society, in general, can be a little bit harsh to people who are not part of the normal group,” Ebora explained citing that one of his fears is if his children would be able to integrate themselves into society when they are gone.

Meanwhile, SBMA chairman and administrator Rolen C. Paulino expressed elation about having adults with special needs complete their training here in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

“This is great! Aside from the regular individuals we have in our workforce, we have “differently abled” individuals in our workforce. Now, we have trainees with special needs. I look forward to having them as workers sometime soon,” Paulino said.

Paulino also mentioned that the SBF welcomes workers of all kinds of groups, including members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer community. With that, he reiterated the call to potential investors who want to make it happen in the Philippines to invest in Subic.

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