I got this invite to a one-of-a-kind event. It was the opening of the ABLE Store, the first and only retail store in the country dedicated to hiring differently abled teens.
Was so excited to see for myself what the store has to offer. After attending NOCHE: Dining in the Dark, where I tot to interact with visually challenged servers, I was just too happy that there is another project designed to uplift lives -- this time the differently abled teens. I was geared up to check on what they are selling, and how they are going to sell it.
But it was a different afternoon... what transpired really moved me. To tears.
I went to Quality Life Discoveries (QLD), an early intervention and SPED center in Cubao, Quezon City. QLD caters to mostly children diagnosed with developmental delays. They offer Multiple Sensory Environment and Aqua Therapy. Just this year, they accepted SPED children and offer SPED education. Most importantly, they accept underprivileged children with special needs, under the scholarship program - TheraPinoy.
During the program, I saw the iCAN Students perform, with such happy faces and energy. The audience were mesmerized. The parents were in tears. It was such a happy occasion seeing these children and teens perform. As a parent myself I remembered the joy of seeing my kids perform when they were little, and it was such a memorable experience.
But these differenly-abled teens need more. The need to be productive; to be active participants in the community.
For the past years, parents of the children enrolled in their program, specially those ages 12 and above were asking for hlp on how to make their kids productive, since most of them have stopped schooling already and are just attending therapy sessions with them.
That is why they came up with I CAN Program that aims to:
- fill in the gap in service for their teens with special needs who fall between therapy and supported employment
- provide practical and applicable job skills for real world employment
- all students on the program are then offered a job after an assessment of readiness is made, the job is through ABLE store
- teach students independence and a skill set that is unique to a person with disability in entering the workforce
However offering a pre-vocational program isn't enough, they have to close the loop and ultimately make them productive, thus with the help of their initial enABLErs - Human Nature Marikina, they have finally launched the ABLE STORE.
Every product that the store sells, percentage of the earnings goes to a fund that the teens shares as profit. Isn't this a GREAT motivation for you my dear readers -- to shop at the Able Store for your Christmas gifts? Shop and help sustain the business so that they can hire more teens with special needs :)
If you are wondering what can you buy at the ABLE STORE -- here's the list of the enABLERrs supporting their advocacy:
|FIRST HARVEST - THROUGH HUMAN NATURE|
|ADARNA BOOKS (yey, this is the sister company of the Raya School, |
where my teens graduated from)
|UNCLE FRANKS - THROUGH HUMAN NATURE|
|PLUSH AND PLAY|
|THEO PHILO ARTISAN CHOCOLATES|
Apart from their enABLErs, they have tapped other ABLEpreneurs - who are also differently abled teens who are making their own products as means of livelihood.
- Lorenzo's Sanctuary - by Enzo, 14 years old with non verbal autism who makes Organic and Gluten Free Guava Tarragon Jams
- Caryls 11's Kitchen - by Caryll, 14 years old with non verbal autism who makes pickled bitter gourds and pickled papayas and citronella candles
- Franco Cagayat - by Franco, 23 years old with autism, based in Paete Laguna and makes cars through wood carvings
|BLESSED TO HAVE RECEIVED THESE ITEMS :)|
Dear readers... mga Ka-Wise mommies, let us do our share and help the ABLE STORE help these differently abled teens become productive and empowered citizens of our country. Let's show our support, and buy the ABLE STORE's products -- handcrafted and manufactured with love.