By Sharlaine M. Balagtas
Hope Intervention Center, the first and only public school for children with autism in the Philippines, celebrated its 17th anniversary with a Halloween-themed costume party last October 23. Held at the Hope Intervention Center campus in Brgy. Halang, Calamba City, the event was attended by students together with their families. Representatives from the local barangay and the city government of Calamba also joined the celebration.
The program started with a prayer led by Earnest Jovida, an alumnus of the center and a graduate of a two-year course in Computer Programming.
The event also showcased the school’s entry during the Autism Society Philippines’ friendship games, dance number to the tune of “Thriller”. Solo song numbers were also performed by Andrei Ramirez and Genesis Eleson, students who have been invited to sing in the Festival of Arts at UPLB on December. Several parents and relatives of the students also shook the crowd in a Halloween-themed dance battle.
School principal Minerva Obrince explained that these events are important because they allow children from the center to experience activities practiced in other schools. “Kahit anong event na ginagawa ng mga normal na bata pwede po rin naming ipagawa sa kanila,” she said.
Hope Intervention Center is the first and only public school for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. First named San Juan Day Care, it was founded in 1998 by a group of parents who wanted special education (SPEd) for their children. The center has been adopted by the Rotary Club of Calamba since 2003 and is funded by the City Government of Calamba. Several donations were made to the center such as their public library donated by the Calamba Doctors Hospital.
The center started with eight students and now has 85 students and 16 employees.