Within the multitudes of people, there exist our everyday heroes – regular men and women, who devote their time and capabilities to helping those in need. Among these heroes are the parents, coordinators, and volunteers of The Heart at Play foundation – an organization dedicated to helping special needs children, through the art of dance.
Last June 21, 2014, The Heart at Play foundation presented its first benefit concert entitled “Specially Me,” at the Henry Lee Irwin Theater of the Ateneo de Manila University. It was an event that featured dance numbers from the organization’s special needs children – proving to all those watching that these children are capable of more than what society gives them credit for. This marked the organization’s first major event since its establishment three years ago.
Experiencing the event
Upon arriving at the Henry Lee Irwin Theater, we noticed it jam-packed with people of different ages. Parents filled the seats in the first floor while students from different high schools and universities filled the seats above. Their eyes focused on the stage, eager to witness these children’s performances.
The show then opened with some remarks from one of the organization’s coordinators, explaining the foundation and their methods for helping these children. Following that were some of the children’s performances to some songs made famous by musicals, namely Tarzan, Footloose, Hairspray, and The Wiz.
As the music played, these kids swayed, waved their arms high up in the air, and jumped to the beat of the music – they were dancing. It was truly an endearing sight for all those watching, one that would definitely put a smile on your face.
Through it all though, there was one performance that really intrigued us, and it was the performance using the Rope of Hope. Here, the children formed lines across the stage and held on to a rope covered with multi-colored paper. Together, these kids would raise the rope up and down, left and right, to create various dance movements. This Rope of Hope was The Heart at Play’s unique method of helping the children achieve a more holistic healing, and indeed, they never looked happier.
With every performance done, the audience’s thundering claps and screams of excitement echoed throughout the theater – ours included. Everyone was in awe of the kids’ capabilities to perform, especially in front of a large audience.
In between these performances, videos about the organization were shown and some remarks were given by the parents and the coordinators of the organization. In one of the videos, a child named Maggie, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome, was featured. This particular video showed the audience that with the help of The Heart at Play foundation and Teacher Anna, Maggie was able to improve greatly; thus, proving the organization’s accomplishment in aiding these children.
Although the show’s main attraction was the kids, the show still featured some dance crews, namely Fresh Flow, LMN, Legit Status, Up Street Dance, DTour, DanceX, Indak, and CADS – all of whom were flawless in their dance routines while bringing more energy to the show.
Finally, the show ended with both the children and the dancers on stage, and the audience clapping for a job well done.
It was a genuinely nice and heartwarming show, one that truly allowed people to see and understand what it’s like to care for children with special needs.
About The Heart at Play Foundation
We got to speak with co-founder and Lasallian student Therese Rivera, who explained better the purpose of the organization. “It [The Heart at Play foundation] caters to the least, the last, and the lost, and we believe that it takes a special kind of heart to leave no child behind,” she says. This exemplifies the organization’s intentions in creating stable and friendly environments to children with special needs.
Furthermore, she encouraged the youth to be more open to volunteering in the organization, and helping them spread awareness by following and sharing their updates in Facebook. She believes that this will allow more people to be aware of the issue and to take action in helping those with special needs. “It’s a new cause kasi [and] because it’s very new to society – accepting special children – and [how] more so, reaching out to them,” she further explains.
This benefit concert can serve as a stepping stone for more achievements. Hopefully, they continue to exemplify society’s everyday heroes.