This is the third of seven posts for a Gratitude Challenge that my sister Mary Jane asked me to do on Facebook. I felt like it’s such a worthwhile endeavor that I didn’t want to just limit it to Facebook. I thought it would be even nicer if I took the time to write about what I’m grateful for here on the blog.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to post for the seven days consecutively. I knew that would happen. It seems I have got to learn how to say “No,” to some of these fun opportunities that are presenting themselves to me, because it is apparent that I do not have enough hours in the day to attend everything and meet all these new and exciting people! I love new opportunities, and I wrote about some of them in my last Gratitude post. BUT, I also have to be realistic and accept my limitations because I haven’t yet figured out how to be in two places at once. (If you figure that one out, drop me a line,kay?)
Thursday was such a fantastic day. I was so happy and grateful, that I was moved to tears quite a few times. Isn’t it funny how HAPPY = TEARS?! That’s how much Gellibean’s birth has changed things in my life.
A while back, I pitched a Best Buddies Club to Brother Bernie for DLSZ. In fact, when we discussed it and he was so receptive, I was moved to tears (again)…there in the Taft Gym while waiting for the girls to play a tune up game with the UAAP team from the college. I gave him a brief over view of what Best Buddies was about and how beneficial it would be for students to foster friendships with other kids who happened to have intellectual and developmental disabilities.
He was over the moon about my suggestion and he wanted to learn more. Because our Best Buddies Manila director, Anj Onrubia was traveling with our ambassadors for the 25th anniversary and Best Buddies Leadership Convention, we planned for a meet up with Brother Bernie when she arrived back in Manila.
The timing could not have been more perfect.
With the help of the Guidance Office in DLSZ, who were already planning for the SAFE program, we were able to work the introduction of Best Buddies, and the “End the R Word Pledge,” into their launch. Both Anj and I were excited for the enthusiasm and positive feedback we received regarding Best Buddies AND creating an awareness in the children of derogatory words.
THURSDAY marked the introduction of the Best Buddies Club in DLSZ. It’s the beginning of something beautiful. It’s the first step in establishing new friendships which will change and alter the way both sides of the participating buddies see life.
Together with my friends Karrots and Lolet, Anj and I asked the ENTIRE high school student body to take the pledge to “End the word.”
Doing this with my other mommy friends who look for the same acceptance and inclusion for their children, was made all the more sweet because of another friend of mine. This friend has often surprised me with her generosity and acceptance not just for my daughter…but for all children with special needs. In fact I’m pretty lucky to call her my friend.
Kathy and her sister Jonah from K-Snaps documented the entire launch of the SAFE program AND even more importantly for us, they documented the kids taking the “End the R Word” pledge.
When I knew there was a chance that we were going to have the entire student body pledging not to use the R word, I knew it would be monumental. I KNEW I had to have some kind of documentation for the entire event because just thinking about the possibility gave me goose bumps. I would experience these same goose bumps when I heard Key of Z sing Seasons of Love from Rent and Jammers play Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson.
When I contacted Kathy from K-Snaps, she said she would make sure her schedule was clear to accommodate my request. She and Jonah filmed and photographed the entire event so that she could put together something for Best Buddies. She donated her time and expertise because she loves Gellibean so much.
During the program that Anj and I put together, I figured it would be a good idea to make it easy for the kids to relate to the reason why I take the “R word” so personally. I felt I needed to be straight forward and keep things simple. I introduced all of my kids to the student body, (I cleared this with Ate and Kuya first.) and I shared a little bit about each of my children with their corresponding photos. I saved Gelli for last and explained that she has an extra chromosome, and that the R word hurts our whole family when we hear it.
But even the photo that I shared of her is extra special. A while back a friend of mine mentioned that her daughter was looking for models for their Green Blooded line of Lasalle gear. My husband is a die hard LaSallite…(he said they used to call them LaSallites back when he was in school) and the thought of Diego and Gellibean modeling for anything that was LaSalle in nature got us both very excited.
So-besides being grateful for the opportunity to introduce Best Buddies to DLSZ and starting a chapter there, besides having the entire high school student body take the pledge to “End the R Word,” and besides having great friends who believe in my cause and donate their time selflessly, what I am most grateful for today is the fact that we are slowly Changing the Face of Beauty.
My Gellibean is a model. And if I don’t say so myself…she was pretty darn good at it! Thank you Jonathan Keh for shooting these awesome pictures, and THANK YOU Kyla Sy for hiring Gellibean as one of your talents for Green Blooded Clothing.
Today…today…I am thankful for all of the little steps towards inclusion…and all the people along the way who made it possible…
Thank you Brother Bernie.
Thank you to the entire Guidance Office of DLSZ for incorporating Best Buddies and the “End the R Word” pledge into your SAFE campaign.
Thank you Kathy and Jonah from K-Snaps for documenting the whole event.
Thank you Kaye, Kyla, and Jonathan for giving Gellibean the chance to SHINE.