Jeline Trinidad, a junior Bachelor of Elementary Education major in Special Education student, and Ms. Eleanor Marie L. Bahrami-Hessari, an instructor at the College of Education, represented the Philippines in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, held from March 16-21, 2017, in Graz, Austria. The summit, which bore the theme “Social Impact for a Unified Generation,” brought together young people with/without intellectual disabilities to learn, network, and share best practices.

A total of forty-four (44) participants from different parts of the world attended, representing eighteen (18) countries. Most of the attendees were Unified Partners, or those without intellectual disabilities and advocating for those who have disabilities.

Inclusion, leadership

Trinidad spoke during the summit, specifically on inclusive leadership skills. During the said summit, she batted for the positive use of social media in order to spread awareness and promote involvement on the noteworthy causes advocated by Special Olympics and “If they have a chance to interact with our special athletes, they will know how talented they are, how special they are. It is all about convincing other people to open their hearts to accept people with intellectual disabilities.”

In her sharing, Trinidad underscored that three barriers to inclusive education advocacies in the Philippines include: 1) the lack of awareness of people, resulting in negative attitudes and beliefs manifested in derogatory terms; 2) the minimal services available for people with intellectual disabilities; and 3) the present system that does not support free education and services for those with special needs.

Trinidad is the incumbent Secretary of the Guild of Thomasian SpEducators (GuTS), which since 2012 has been hosting Special Olympics Philippines events.

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