Press Releases

Teenpreneur Challenge Gets Bigger and Better

Cebu, Davao eyed for young businessmen

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Every year, about a dozen or so high schools from Metro Manila participate in the annual competition that aims to expose students to entrepreneurship and how it can be used to fight poverty. Each participating schools forms a team which eventually partnered with a micro-entrepreneur from an underprivileged community.

The task of each school vying for top awards is to innovate, re-engineer, or change altogether the micro-entrepreneur’s existing livelihood product in order to generate more sales and profits.

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This year’s participating schools are De LaSalle Greenhills, Falcon School, Golden Faith School, Sacred Heart Academy, St. Paul’s College, Paref Northfield School and Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila School.
According to Mr. Eduardo Silva, ESA Director of Academics, this inter-high school competition aims to help underprivileged communities uplift their lives through business, and they are eyeing the cities of Cebu and Davao to widen the community reach of the yearly challenge. They are also drawing up plans to provide stalls in each of the 58 SM Malls nationwide to ramp up public reach.

Silva said the competition is directed not just to uplift the lives of various underprivileged communities but at the same time provide a venue for students who want to learn the ropes of doing business even at an early age.

“Business is about trying to show initiative. You will have to solve problems. I know each and every one of you has experienced, each team has run into difficulties and varying types of problems, unforeseen events but that’s part of business, that’s part of the training,” he told the participants of the event.

“Young people like us can do something about it. You are actually helping fight poverty. You are taking action and that is important. And even at a young age it is important for you to realize you can make a positive impact to the community. I’m happy to see that all of you are able to surmount those problems and you are able to come up with your product. And at the end of the day it is to help your product grow and you are continuing this tradition.” he said.

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Three categories were awarded, focusing on the innovation, design and sales achieved by the students during the competition.

Ian Mathay, Assistant Vice President of SM Supermalls and SM Cares Program Director for Social Entrepreneurship, said the Teenpreneur Challenge is SM’s way of encouraging social entrepreneurship within communities.

“SM Cares believes in the youth and one way of nurturing them is to instil the value of hard work and compassion to the underprivileged. This is the main reason we have always been supportive of the Teenpreneurship Challenge,” he added.

SM Cares is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. Its advocacies include, Programs on Children and Youth, Senior Citizens, Persons with Disabilities, Women and Breastfeeding, OFWs (SM Global Pinoy), Environment and Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship.

To know more about SM Cares and its CSR programs, you may visit www.smcares.com.ph or www.facebook.com/OfficialSMCares.

Children with Down Syndrome “Level Up” In Bid For Integration

US Ambassador lauds PH, SM efforts on Down Syndrome

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Children with Down Syndrome have started to “level up” in their bid for inclusion in Philippine society.

This developed as United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim lauded the efforts in the Philippines and SM Prime Holdings Inc. in pushing for inclusivity of children with Down Syndrome.

Joining the Happy Walk for Down Syndrome held at the SMX at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City Sunday, Kim said he was inspired by the energy of the children in the event as he lauded efforts on children with Down Syndrome.

“This is a wonderful event. I am really honored to spend some time with these kids. I’m really inspired by these children because there’s so much energy. I would like to commend everyone and SM for organizing these very special event,” Kim said in an interview.

Gamely participating in the activity booths set up by children with Down Syndrome, Kim pledged to take part in next year’s Happy Walk event. “This has been going on for quite a while and I look forward to participating again next year,” he stated.

Elmer Lapena, President of the Down Sydrome Association of the Philippines, Inc. (DSAPI), said their children who have the condition have started to level up in terms of taking the first step in becoming productive members of society.

“This level up is to push society to embrace our children for them to become productive members of society. We have many kids now who are working or going to school and we hope more of them could be accommodated,” he said.

For one, Lapena’s son Jeremy, who has Down Syndrome, is currently employed as a sales assistant at a bag store. “My son currently works and he mingles well with co-workers and customers. Many look for him when he’s not around and so it just goes to show that can work and be part of the community. Our dream is full integration of our children in society and we are starting to see that happen,” he stressed.

He also expressed gratitude that more and more people have been participating in their Happy Walk event, which takes them around MOA. “Last year was special because 3,000 people came. We expected only 1,500 last year but more than 3,000 came. This year, more than 4,000 people attended and we feel very honored to be given this importance,” he said.

Lapena explained that the Happy Walk events have been instrumental in showing to children with Down Syndrome and their parents that they can be achievers in their own way.

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Happy Walk for Down Syndrome is the kick-off event to in celebration and observance of the National Down Syndrome Consciousness Month and is spearheaded by DSAPI and SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings, Inc.

The Happy Walk for Down Syndrome was started by Lapena and several other parents who had children with the condition. They started their advocacy to raise awareness on Roxas Boulevard in 2002 until SM offered to host their event at the Skydome of the SM North Edsa.

When the gathering proved to be too big for the 1,200-seater Skydome, then SM Prime President Hans Sy and SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Supermalls, offered them the much bigger SMX at the Mall of Asia.

Down syndrome (DS), also called Trisomy 21, is a condition in which an extra genetic material called chromosome 21 causes delays in the way a child develops, both mentally and physically. There is no known cause or cure but Lapena said 80 percent of babies with the condition are born to mothers aged 35 year and below but the risk of having a baby with Down Syndrome increases as women get older.

Health data show that one person with Down Syndrome is born in the Philippines every four hours.

Lapena said contrary to popular belief, Down Syndrome is a common genetic disorder that affects one in every 800 Filipino children. Which is the reason why, he said, it is vital that their inclusion to Philippine society is achieved.

Engr. Bien Mateo, SM Cares Program on Persons with Disabilities, said advancing the causes of People with Disability (PWD) is one of the advocacies of SM Cares. “Through the years, SM Cares has instituted key programs to address the needs of PWDs which earned it the reputation of being the most PWD-friendly mall in the country. These are initiatives that support communities where an SM Mall is present. All malls have dedicated areas for parking and disembarking for PWDs, special restrooms, ramps, Braille signages, designated areas for PWDs in theaters and dining rooms as well as utilities within accessible height like pay phones and wash room sinks. Mall security guards and personnel are also trained to respond to the unique needs of PWDs,” he pointed out.

To know more about SM and its program on persons with disabilities, you may visit www.smcares.com.ph or www.facebook.com/OfficialSMCares.

Angels Walk 2017 Breaks Record Attendance with 24,000 People

Movement notes shift in advocacy from awareness to acceptance of people with autism

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The yearly Angels Walk for Autism continues to break barriers as this year’s attendance ballooned to 24,000 from last year’s 16,000.

This developed as event organizers led by the Autism Society Philippines (ASP) bared that their advocacy had already shifted from awareness of people with autism to acceptance.

Participants, composed of children with autism, their family, community workers, local government officials, members of the international community and other supporters, have packed the Arena to the bleachers with many attendees opting to wait outside.

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Mona Veluz, President of the ASP said, this year was overwhelming because of the record attendance. “We are just so honored and humbled by the number of people who participated this year because it has been tremendous,” she said.

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The Angels Walk had indeed come a long way since its launch 17 years ago in Roxas Boulevard where only several families of children with autism gathered to raise awareness on the people with the condition.

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This is year, added Veluz, their advocacy had moved from awareness to acceptance as their children have started to find employment in various companies.

Veluz said from their organization alone, they have placed more 200 people with autism who have found employment in various companies.

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“Now we are seeing more companies accepting diversity. There had been a spike for the past year because previously there were only handful but now we have more than 200 people with autism gainfully employed in various companies,” she said.

The reason for employment, she added, has also shifted from previously being out of charity to the capability and unique talent of people with autism.  “Now it’s not anymore charity why they are hiring people with autism but it’s because of their unique sets of skills like those that are in SM SaveMore. Our boys are valued because they have excellent spatial skills. They have a good sense of order so that is useful in managing stocks,” she said.

Matt Somera, who works in SaveMore as stocks attendant said he is glad that he is earning his keep and is able to help people in his job. When asked what he did with his first paycheck, Somera said he deposited it in his own bank account.

Other people with autism who spoke during the Angels Walk were Mike Almendrala who works as an administrative assistant at the Philippine Information Agency and Yanna Aragon who is the Variable Resource Administrator at IBM Philippines.

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Engr. Bien Mateo, Director of the SM Cares’ Program on Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) said SM will expand its program in the coming months. “We are ready to expand the OJT training programs of PWAs to more branches of Savemore as preparatory program for full employment,” Mateo said.

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The Angels Walk for Autism, spearheaded by the Autism Society Philippines (ASP) in partnership with SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings, Inc., and the Mall of Asia Arena, is now on its 17th year.

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SM Cares is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. Its advocacies include Programs on Persons with Disabilities, Senior Citizens, Children and Youth, Women and Breastfeeding, OFWs (SM Global Pinoy), Environment and Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship.