There is a book pertaining to people with disabilities (PWDs) that eight of the residents in this city co-authored.

It’s entitled “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities” that builds upon the idea of promoting wellness and disease prevention to everyone. Challenges abound to the well-being of PWDs. Their health should just be placed squarely among the public health issues being researched, delivered, financed, trained, and studied upon.

Those residents are H. Stanley Eichenauer, Monique Fountain, Merle McPherson, Jeanne McDowell, Ruby Neville, Jon Perez, Bonnie Strickland, and Steven Towle.

There are also support groups in Rockville for PWDs such as The Arc of Montgomery County along the Southlawn Lane and the Head Injury Rehabilitation & Referral Services, Inc. (HIRRS). There is the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes (JFGH) that can help PWDs adjust into the “adult community.”

Other organizations in the city share the same vision. The Kennedy Employment Program can let PWDs “grow, share and develop as independent adults.” The St. Coletta of Greater Washington can guide PWDs “to live as full and independent a life as possible.” The Outcome Service can assist PWDs in finding jobs.

Even in the field of sports, Rockville supports its residents with disabilities. It is where the Disabled Sport USA is, a community-based chapter network that aims to improve the lives of PWDs through sports. It is spearheaded by Kirk Bauer, an amputee who lost his leg from a grenade explosion in Vietnam.

“As a disabled Vietnam veteran and Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA for the past 30 years, Kirk Bauer firmly believes that the military philosophy of leadership by example is the most effective way to inspire others to dream big and achieve their goals.” ~ From the Disabled Sport USA website

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Disabled Sport USA


New Vois Association of the Philippines

In March 2007, the Philippine Laryngectomee Club (PLC) decided to do something more than it had envisioned when it established itself 11 years ago.

It would not just support those with throat cancer but those with speech impairments as well. It would conduct esophageal speech training for people with disabilities (PWDs) in Quezon City.

An ex-officio member of the Alyansa ng May Kapansanang Pinoy (AKAP-Pinoy), the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) has been involved in monitoring the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It assists in implementing Republic Act 10070 and Executive Order 417.

Last July 19, 2010, the NVAP rallied to raise awareness on the violations of the Magna Carta of the Disabled Persons (Republic Act 9442), specifically on the granting of the 20% discount on medical purchases. It led to several other lobbying activities at the House of Representatives and impelled the Mercury Drugstore Corp. to grant the said discount on March 1, 2011.

The NVAP also chaired the International Disability Day last December 3, 2010. It is also the one presiding over the annual Freedom Walk activity since June 2011.

“The event is dubbed the ‘Freedom Walk’ as a way for the PWD sector to celebrate Philippine Independence Day. This is also an expression of their desire to be free from shackles of discrimination, inequalities and poverty,” Captain Oscar Taleon, president of AKAP-Pinoy, was reported saying.

The Freedom Walk is usually participated in by the National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the House of Representatives Committee on Social Services, the Department of Health (DOH), the National Anti-Poverty Commission, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Among the other non-government organizations (NGOs) that would also take part are the Philippine Academy on Rehab Medicine, the Philippine Federation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (PFRD), the Philippine Association of Citizens with Developmental and Learning Disabilities, the Autism Society of the Philippines, the Philippine Blind Union, the (AKAP-Pinoy), as well as the SM Disability Affairs Program. (Photo from the NVAP Facebook Page)

“NVAP activities revolve around the following three main issues: (1) cancer support and rehabilitation of speech-impaired PWDs, (2) tobacco control advocacy, and (3) persons with disabilities advocacy.” ~From the NVAP website

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the UPMMS Publicity

Reflections from the UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2014

If complications in pregnancy and childbirth can lead to disability, then special education in all school levels is really a must.

Complications related to pregnancy and childbirth have killed almost 10 million women since 1990, said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director, in a report. It is the highest lifetime risk for maternal death in Niger, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Chad, Angola, Liberia, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, and Mali.

But special education should be more than teaching people with disabilities (PWDs). It should be more than designating special schools, special classrooms, and tsukyu (resource rooms) in Japan. It should be more than providing “accommodations” for those PWDs who would be taking national exams in Singapore. It should also be more than exempting students with hearing impairments in Finland from taking listening comprehension tests.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Benjamin Franklin had said. Since complications in pregnancy and childbirth are a factor to disability, lessons about it should be discussed in all kinds of schools!

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ~Nelson Mandela

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Sean Smith

Alay sa may mga Kapansanan Association, Inc.

The Alay sa may mga Kapansanan Association, Inc. (AKAI) is a non-profit and non-stock organization registered under SEC No. A200116478.

It aimed to help people with either physical and mental disability to gain a sense of self-worth, believing PWDs ‘should be treated equally no matter how physically challenged they are.’ It had given out wheelchairs, crutches, hearing aids and other assistive devices, and had conducted free medical and dental services to PWDs in many depressed areas, institutions, and schools.

Among of AKAI’s beneficiaries are Ginito Impang, 59, of Brgy.Luz, Cebu; Joselito Alcain, 44, of Naga; and Ryan Jay Eraya, 23, of Brgy. Sagkahan, Tacloban. It would teach soap making, slipper making, basket weaving, and food preparing, as well as conduct awareness and advocacy weeks with other associations and local government units in the Philippines. It continues to seek donations to purchase assistive devices for its beneficiaries and fund its future projects.

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. – a quote from John Holmes that the AKAI uses on its website

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Lex Code

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

The amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rare disease.

So rare that only 5 out of 100,000 people worldwide can be affected by it.

There are no known risk factors; only that 1 out of 10 cases of ALS is due to a genetic defect. There is also no known cure; the medicine Riluzole (Rilutek) can only prolong survival by several months.

Riluzole can reduce the damage to motor neurons brought by the disease by decreasing the release of glutamate. Glutamate is the “major excitatory transmitter in the brain.” It is one of the 20 amino acids that make up proteins and regulates the brain. It is otherwise known as monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer in food.

But Riluzole could damage the liver. This first disease-specific therapy could only offer hope that ALS can be slowed down by new medications or combination of drugs someday.

Pete Frates, the 29-year-old former captain of the Boston College Baseball Team who was stricken with ALS two years ago, would just use an online virtual keyboard to type. He was the one who started the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that dares anyone to endure a bucketful of icy water over their heads or donate $100 to the ALS Association.

To date, Frates would use a ventilator to be able to breathe on his own. He would eat through a feeding tube to be able to swallow. He would “fight harder and harder” to be a husband and father to his wife Julie, who will be giving birth on September 10.

“[I] challenged President Obama to give the ALS community a stronger voice in Washington; the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to donate $2 million for ALS research, and Bud Selig [Commissioner of Major League Baseball] to make July 4 a day to honor Lou Gehrig. You each have 24 hours to dump a bucket of ice on your head.” ~Pete Frates after he performed the Ice Bucket Challenge at the Fenway Park

Update: Last March 11, Dr. Richard Bedlack of the Duke University was able to come up with four alternative therapies to beat ALS: coconut oil ingestion, fecal transplant, cannabis consumption, and vitamin D intake. (March 16, 2015)

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Rick Laufer

Isidro Vildosola: the one-armed runner

Isidro Vildosola was 14 when he had rescued his cousin who got stuck in a rice thresher. He was able to do so but without his right arm in pain. It was amputated the very next day without anesthesia because there was none available in any hospital in Koronadal City.

But that didn’t stop Coach Sid to literally run his life. He won silver during the 2011 Paralympic Games in Australia in the 5,000-meter run and 1,500-meter run; and another during the 2010 Paralympic Games in China in the 1,500-meter run.

He also won bronze during the 2009 Paralympic Games in Malaysia, gold during the 2007 Paralympic Games in Thailand, and gold during the 2005 Paralympic Games in Manila. These are all in the 800-meter run.

In the 1,500-meter run, Coach Sid had two golds during the 2007 Paralympic Games in Thailand and the 2005 Paralympic Games in Manila. He also won bronze during the 2007 Fespic Games in Malaysia.

As of September 11, 2011, Coach Sid is ‘looking forward’ for the London Paralympics. He had to qualify, first, however, with the Frankfurt Marathon in Germany.

“Huwag silang magtago, mahiya o matakot na kantiyawan o kutyain. I challenge them to show their talents and be discovered. I know that there are a lot more in provinces. Share it to the community and don’t lose hope.” ~Coach Sid in an interview with Vincent Go

  Photo by Mario Ignacio IV for Vera Files

Foundation for These-Abled Persons Inc.

Envisioning “an inclusive society with empowered and productive persons with disabilities,” the Foundation for These-Abled Persons Inc. (FTI) decided to help the businesses in the Philippines designed to empower its persons with disabilities (PWDs).

The FTI is located in Quezon City and was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last June 19, 2009. One of its founding members, the National Federation of Cooperatives of Persons with Disability (NFCPWD), has been developing and supporting cooperatives owned and managed by PWDs themselves since 1998. It does so by providing a “working capital,” which is pooled from the funds it had collected, from the P4-million donation of the Cristoffel Blinden Mission (CBM), and from local and international banking institutions.

It had worked. Over the past 12 years, member cooperatives of the NFCPWD have generated about P80 million, most of which was from the Department of Education (DepEd), mandated as it was to patronize the pieces of school furniture manufactured and supplied by PWDs.1

Recently, the FTI has partnered with the San Francisco Association of Differently Abled Persons Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SAFRA-ADAP)2 for a reforestation project. It has also built an alliance with other organizations of PWDs (OPDs), non-government organizations (NGOs), and government agencies to establish PWeDe [People with Disabilities for Economic Development and Empowerment].

To date, the FTI has a P7.3-million budget. It plans to construct a 2-storey building in Don Mariano, Cainta, Rizal for office space and venue for trainings. It still needs, however, financial support from the Filipino populace. “We will be launching our fund raising,” shared Lolita Gelle, executive director of FTI, in an email. “We are requesting the public to donate school chairs and desk to public schools and at the same time help in the employment of PWDs since they would be the ones to manufacture the chairs and desk. Our cooperatives of PWDs also have airline ticketing and tour packages as one of the services.”

“We are a catalyst of change to enable organizations of PWDs to be economically self-sufficient and meaningfully participate in an inclusive and supportive environment.”~FTI Mission

1 Since 1998, the Department of Education (DepEd) has been mandated to reserve 10% of its annual purchases of school furniture to be manufactured and supplied by cooperatives of PWDs.

2 The San Francisco Association of Differently Abled Persons Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SAFRA-ADAP) is in Agusan del Sur.

Photos courtesy of the FTI