Special children now have focal attention in Maguindanao

Moro special children play with Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu at the closing rite of a three-day workshop for parents and teachers of 39 mentally and physically impaired school kids at the provincial gym in Buluan town on Thursday. (Photo by Ali G. Macabalang)

Attached photo caption: Moro special children play with Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu at the closing rite of a three-day workshop for parents and teachers of 39 mentally and physically impaired school kids at the provincial gym in Buluan town on Thursday. (Photo by Ali G. Macabalang)

BULUAN, Maguindanao – Volunteers from concerned public and private sectors in this province have joined hands in carrying out a cohesive program focused on the welfare of children suffering from physical and mental disabilities that proponents believe can be cured to help them fare with other young residents of sound mind and body.

Workforces of the provincial government, the Department of Education (DepEd), and private psychosocial therapists officially launched here lately a program aimed at training parents and teachers on fundamental strategies in handling kids known more as “special children” needing extraordinary interventions in their growth in school and at home.

The pilot program began with a three-day workshop on Aug. 29 at the air-conditioned Buluan provincial gym here, with the attendance of 29 special children accompanied by their parents or guardians and 14 public school teachers as participants and a pool of psychosocial therapists as trainers.

The trainers led by Iris Mae Ubas, a psychology graduate of the University of the Philippines trained in Vietnam on behavioral management therapy, handled patiently the lecture and workshop segments of the live-in event.

At the closing ceremony of the three-day event on Aug. 31, the accompanying father and teacher of nine-year old Jihad Ayaw of Datu Odin Sinsuat town rejoiced in between sob upon witnessing him in making oral sounds for the first time since his birth in muteness, provincial budget office chief and program focal person Lynette Estandarte told reporters.

Estandarte said they learned of the existence of hundreds of special children in Maguindanao through the continuing conduct of medical missions in the province.

“We proposed the introduction of a program for such special children and we are very glad that our governor (Esmael Mangudadatu) promptly approved it with corresponding budget allocation” for both special children accounted for in the two schools divisions of Maguindanao, Estandarte said.

In the second division alone involving 20 districts with 267 elementary and 38 secondary schools, there are at least 431 mentally or physically impaired students enrolled under the DepEd-sanctioned special education (SPED) in the province, according to SPED division coordinator Salvacion Deaño.

Gov. Mangudadatu dropped by at the pilot program closing rites on Thursday, and received warm hugs from the 39 special children in several selfies sought by rejoicing parents and teachers.

In his spontaneous message, the governor ordered the monthly conduct of similar gathering, assuring free transport and accommodation at the five-storey built here in 2014 jointly by the provincial and national governments for the welfare of women and children in Maguindanao.

“You now have the full support of your provincial government… I have a relative family by affinity that spends at least seventeen thousand pesos monthly for the education of its special child,” Mangudadatu told the parents in mixed Muslim and Pilipino vernaculars.

Informed of the program launching, DepEd and Department of Interior and Local Government officials in Central Mindanao acknowledged Maguindanao to be the “first province” to have provided focal attention to resident special children. (Ali G. Macabalang)

Reference by Ali G. Macabalang (https://www.facebook.com/agm4458/posts/10213827430225204)