MANILA, Philippines – Meet this year's Civic Movers for the Move Awards.
I'MPOWER started out as a class project for a Global Health and Innovations class that would eventually change the lives of children with motor-related disabilities, mostly with cerebral palsy.
A group of then 3rd year college students from the Ateneo de Manila University – Arlyze Arenaz, Ramon Cajucom, Hannah Chua, Ariza Francisco, Adie Sison, Gab Tangco, and Joyce Tiam-Lee – was assigned to develop a solution to a problem in a community-based rehabilitation facility – the Samahan ng mga Magulang na Iniingatan ang Lahat ng Batang Espesyal (CBR-SMILE) in Payatas, Quezon City.
Cajucom said I'MPOWER stands for wellness, empowerment, and rehabilitation.
"It also plays on the word empower because we want to empower these kids to do the things that we can do, and to make them feel that they can live the lives that we all live. At the same time, we want to empower the community. We want to make sure that the community is able to help these kids grow up to be productive members of society," he explained.
Today, all of the group's members have graduated from college and are busy with their individual commitments, mostly pursuing their medical degrees. But they still make time to run the program, inspired by its impact on the community.
The group hopes to eventually turn over the project to parent officers of other CBR centers.
Chua and Cajucom shared advice for those wanting to push for their own advocacies.
"You really need that love to keep you going," Chua said. "For us, we're in medical school and it's so easy to get lost in the workload because you really have to study, day in, day out. But it's not even [just] passion anymore. The commitment for us to make a difference, to make a change is really strong [enough] for us to keep on going."
Cajucom added: "It's also important to keep on looking for connections, looking for people to partner with. It's important that you know the right people to talk to, the right people to approach and at the same time you keep pursuing the different opportunities that can actually help your project grow."
How are you moving the Philippines? For I'MPOWER, it can be as simple as teaching kids dancing. – Rappler.com