I am so incredibly excited to share that Best Buddies Philippines has kicked off our first ever Adult Dance Night. After dancing the night away at One World School in Makati, I came home happy, content, and maybe even a little sweaty from all the dance moves the buddies were teaching me.
The idea for this Dancing DJ Thursdays was inspired by another blogger that I love and have followed since the day Gellibean was born.
Kelle Hampton would post about Dance Night at Fred’s on her blog and in her Instagram feed. I would see the photos of adults with IDD (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) and wonder when we would be able to pull something off like this for our Citizen Buddies here in Manila.
Until, I presented it to the core group of volunteers at one of our monthly meetings earlier this year, I didn’t know how or when we would be able to put this event together.
As a core, we decided that the venue for this monthly event needed to be safe.
We needed the activity to be sustainable so that the buddies could continue to come and “cut a rug” with their friends.
We wanted the buddies to feel like it was truly a place where they could gather with their friends and just “hang out.”
We didn’t want this dance night to have to be something they would have to spend money for, so no gowns or suits warranting something similar to a “Prom.”
We agreed that we wanted the kids to “Come as you are,” kind of activity that they could look forward to.
So we decided that we would only ask for Php 100.oo (equivalent of roughly $2.00) and we would ask the kids to bring a snack to share with their friends.
Easy, Peasy, Lemon, Squeezy. RIGHT?
Ericson Perez has been a force to reckon with in education, since moving to Manila 10 years ago. Ironically, in our conversations (in between my superior dance moves) I learned that we both moved to Manila within months of each other. While Ericson has made it his life’s mission to teach kids and foster inclusion, he has built his career here in the Philippines by focusing on what children and adults with IDD need.
I am a bit new to the game, here in Manila, since Gelli was only born less than five years ago.
Ericson has been both behind the scenes, and in the forefront of creating change, furthering inclusion, and touching the lives of families with children with special needs, and for that simple reason, he is a rock star in education.
Y’all remember how Whitney said it right?
So, when I was thinking about where we could have our Adult Dance Night, I knew that our location needed to be central to our Citizen Buddies. I knew that it needed to be safe. And I knew that it needed to be free. I also knew that, with the Best Buddies chapters we have strewn all across the Metro area, that Ericson and ONE WORLD SCHOOL, would be my first venue of choice. Together, with Lou, and Ruben (our awesome intern from BBI) we pitched the idea to Ericson, asking him if he would be open to hosting our once a month gathering for adults.
AND OF COURSE HE SAID YES.
As we hatched our plan, we sent out invitations to other organizations that we knew would appreciate the opportunity to have a place for their adults.
We were thrilled to see their enthusiasm and their willingness to help our cause of providing a safe environment with good music and the look and feel of a REAL dance hall party without any of the dangers of drugs or alcohol or people with ill intentions.
SIDE NOTE: This is a fact of life for me as a parent of a little girl with Down Syndrome. Unfortunately, I know that while I would like to believe everyone in this world is good from the start (a tabula rasa, so to speak) I know that there are forces which are not always wholesome and pure.
I know that it’s my job to protect all of my children (and the buddies that I work with), but I also know that Gellibean is especially at risk because others might take advantage of her.
SAFETY IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE WHENEVER WE PLAN ANY OF OUR BEST BUDDIES EVENTS.
And so, because we planned this event with the full support of Ericson and One World School, we knew that our Buddies would be safe.
I think everyone had a blast.
You can tell by the smiles on their faces. You could hear it in the belly laughs that were coming from a place of joy. You could feel it in the parents who were there, beaming, while watching their children enjoy the music, the lights, and the friendship.
Remember, Best Buddies is about FRIENDSHIP, just as much as it is about awareness and furthering inclusion.
And this guy? After all these years, he asked me if their was a buddy I could pair him with…
How wonderful is it that we were able to make THREE more friendship matches that night with the help of Best Buddies Philippines Citizen Program Manager, Cathy Cham?
We are also really happy that our friends over at DSAPI showed up in full support! Hopefully, we can train some new ambassadors to join Jessica and Vico soon!
We are really excited to see some new faces at our Best Buddies Dancing DJ Thursdays, so if you know anyone who might be interested, be sure to send them over to our Best Buddies Manila Facebook Page.
I’m looking forward to this will being one of our mainstay activities that the citizen buddies will look forward to because they all love music so much.
And who doesn’t like to cut a rug every now and then?
I know I DO.
I can’t wait to get back on the dance floor with my #bestbuddies friend, Andie. . Do you think Gellibean gets her dancing genes from her momma? ??? . Read all about #DancingDJThursdays as it’s up on the blog now! Link in the profile. . #bestbuddiesasiapac #bestbuddiesph #bestbuddiesphilippines #inclusion #citizenbuddies #friendship #downsyndromeawareness #autismawareness
A video posted by Michelle Aventajado (@mommanmanila) on
Website: Best Buddies Philippines
For more photos Dancing & DJs Thursdays