The Quezon City government once again demonstrated its continuing support to efforts at improving the plight of children with special needs when it played host to a two-day special children’s camp at the Balara Filter Plant in Quezon City over the weekend, a day earlier before the celebration of Valentine’s Day.
Some 2,500 special children participated in the activity, aptly called Camp Pag-ibig , which featured various outdoor camping activities as well as musical and entertainment presentations designed to improve further the socialization skills of the participants for their successful integration into the mainstream of community development.
This year’s participants represented various school divisions offering Special Education in the National Capital Region, Antipolo City , Rizal Province and Zambales.
Camp Pag-ibig organizers had also lined up art and self-defense workshops, reading sessions, arts and crafts and nature lore during the activity, which served as one of the highlights of the celebration of the National Intellectual Disability Week from February 12 to 18.
For this year, the theme of the big gathering was: “Changing Times, Changing Needs: Moving Towards Happiness.”
The city government has been hosting the Camp Pag-ibig for the last 19 years to spread the gift of love to children with special needs.
In support of continuing efforts for the benefit of the special children, Mayor Herbert Bautista created the QC special children’s board in December last year to protect and promote the well-being of children with special needs.
The board, where the Mayor sits as chairman, is mandated to adopt various initiatives needed for developing a comprehensive coordinated system of care delivery for children with special needs in the city.
An over-all accounting of all special children in Quezon City was also ordered by Mayor Bautista to meet the proportionate student-teacher ratio, and to hire more special education teachers if needed to fit the total number of children with special needs in the city.
For his part, this year’s camp director, QC Congressional Representative Jorge “Bolet” Banal Jr. reiterated his continuing support for the development of a sustainable program that will bring about new hope for special children.
For Congressman Banal, it is imperative that these children be provided with the right resources, equipment and facilities “for them not to feel different from everyone else.”
The day camp started with a mass officiated by Msgr. Don Sta. Maria while Abelardo Basilio, Manila Water Company director for East Zone Business Operations, delivered the welcome remarks.
Co-camp director Teresa Mariano, QC social services development department head, declared the formal opening of Camp-Pag-ibig 2011.
Overall coordinators for Camp Pag-ibig were former councilor Jorge Banal Sr., now the national president of the Federation of Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (FSCAP), and Dr. Teresita Inciong, executive director of the Early Childhood Care and Development.
Camp Pag-ibig, which was initiated by the Phil. Association for the Retarded in 1976 with only a handful of supporters, now boasts of a broad network of benefactors, which include the QC government, QC Capitol Jaycees, Phil. Association for the Retarded, Department of Education, Bureau of Elementary Education, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and Manila Water Company.