October 3, 2018
Students with special needs from Palo 1 Central School Special Education (SPED) Center were given valuable work and life experience in a popular Japanese clothing retail brand Uniqlo.
In the Philippines, students with special needs attending transition classes also need a place to use their skills outside the school.
With this, a Japanese volunteer under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Volunteer Program Kazuyasu Arai facilitated the immersion of students in Uniqlo Tacloban for SPED students to "gain new experience, show potential possibilities, build their confidence, and meet new people."
With help from Arai, six learners with special needs engaged in a real workplace setting like Uniqlo.
Arai was dispatched at the Palo 1 Central School SPED Center where he also helped students and teachers strengthen the workplace experience program and therapy of SPED students.
Melfe Sanchez, former principal of Palo 1 Central School said, "The school offers a transition program so students with special needs can get training on culinary, marketing, and other skills that can help them live independently."
At Uniqlo, SPED students experienced displaying merchandise, tagging clothes, and distributing promotions flyers to customers.
Sanchez added that the students' experience at Uniqlo helped "teach them patience and hard work in learning new skills, act and relate with co-workers, and build their confidence in interacting with people."
In the Philippines, the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons (RA 7277) encourages that a corporation (also including government agencies) with more than 100 employees reserve at least 1% of positions for PWDs.
Under the JICA Volunteer Program, young Japanese professionals are dispatched to various development fields and live with communities in the Philippines to help address development challenges.
To date, JICA has dispatched 1,649 Japanese volunteers in the Philippines.
Through the workplace experience program, SPED students can learn and improve various skills in actual professional settings like Uniqlo.
The transition program provides SPED students with an opportunity to develop their potential and contribute to society.
(Photos courtesy of Kazuyasu Arai)