The annual Angels’ Walk of persons with autism (PWAs), their stakeholders, and advocates, returns to Cebu on April 2, 2023 (Sunday), beginning at 10:00 A.M. (assembly of participants begin at 9:15 A.M.) at the SM Seaside, Mountain Wing, Main Lobby, South Road Properties, Cebu City, after a two-year hiatus.
The Angels’ Walk, which began in Manila in 2007, is one of the showcases in the advocacy of the Autism Society Philippines (ASP) for acceptance, accommodation and appreciation of Filipinos with autism. In Cebu, the Angels’ Walk was held at SM City Cebu until its transfer to this year’s bigger venue.
The in-mall parade and gathering brings together Cebu’s autism community composed of PWAs and their families, teachers, therapists and students from schools, learning and therapy centers, volunteers from NGOs and socio-civic organizations, and advocates from the public and private sector in a show of commitment towards an “Autism-OK Philippines”.
The United Nations General Assembly designated April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day. It was first observed in 2008.
The activity is also part of the continuing celebration of the 27th Philippine National Autism Consciousness Week which theme is “Building a Nation Powered by Transformative Autism-Inclusive Innovation”.
Philippine National Autism Consciousness Week was enabled by Presidential Proclamation 711 of 1996 signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos, which called for its annual celebration every third week of January. The Cebu activities are done after the national observation in deference to the annual feast of the Santo Nino and Sinulog which are also held in January.
The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization working towards an environment that empowers persons on the autism spectrum to become the best of their potential — self-reliant, independent, productive and socially accepted members of an Autism-OK Philippines. ASP labors to establish institutional mechanisms to support neuro-diverse persons and their families.
Established in 1989, the organization — composed of 13,000 members spread over 100 chapters — has been at the forefront of providing services to families and individuals on the autism spectrum.
The 34-year-old advocacy group celebrates the great strides society has made toward protecting the welfare of those on the autism spectrum and the families who care for them. Those with disabilities are protected by laws such as the Magna Carta of Persons with Disabilities, the Equal Opportunity Employment Act, the Anti-Bullying Act, the Universal Healthcare Law, and the Inclusive Education Law.
The Angels’ Walk is held in partnership with SM Cares, which is the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Supermalls. It was launched in 2004 to organize sustainability and community support efforts, into a comprehensive program that tackles a wide range of initiatives. SM ensures that its CSR programs serve as catalysts for positive change in the community it serves.