MenagerieFTK 2019 and the Lasallian spirit of volunteerism
FTK 2019 and the Lasallian spirit of volunteerism
Tags:
January 22, 2019
Tags:
January 22, 2019

For the Kids (FTK) 2019 kicked off its program this January 20 with high excitement. The mini-olympic event invited children with special needs, called “angels”, to participate in a meaningful day with their Ate and Kuya volunteers. Already on its 30th anniversary, it coincides with the tercentenary celebration of St. John Baptist De La Salle’s passing, as well as the feast of the Sto Niño. Its theme, Atlantis: Discovering Hidden Treasures, is a testament to the school’s commitment to the Lasallian mission by empowering children and inspiring the Lasallian community to love and care for those who have special needs.

 

 

Once in a blue moon

As the hosts directed the volunteers to meet with their assigned angel, a slow bubble of chatter erupted from the Cory Aquino Democratic Space. The event with 600 children and more than 800 volunteers was organized by the Center for Social Concern and Action-Lasallian Outreach and Volunteer Effort (COSCA-LOVE). It is the biggest Lasallian program for special children.

I followed Erica Bianca Bote (III, BS-CHE), an Ate volunteer, to scrutinize the bond formed between a volunteer and their assigned angel. Throughout the program, Erica and her angel Louise, a 9-year old with Down syndrome, played through the various mini-games and activity centers designed to engage the children with the Lasallian community.

 

 

Wading through the sea of people, Erica and I reached the area where the group from the Padre Mariano Gomez Elementary School stood, with Louise waiting. After greeting each other with warm hugs, Erica and Louise got busy in the Oblo Cares booth—a community lending its Lego blocks and coloring materials for children to play with. Klauss Pereja, a member, explains that although the group was born from a Facebook community of Lego-loving adults, they make it a point to take part in charities and volunteer events at least once or twice a year.

While they relaxed in the booth’s tranquil atmosphere, DLSU’s Culture and Arts organizations as well as the Animo Squad hyped up the crowd with their energetic dance numbers. At one point, a young boy joined the La Salle Dance Company-Street (LSDC-Street) in their rendition of the Switch It Up challenge, earning cheers from the audience. After the Athlete’s march, and inspiring remarks from the Vice-President of Lasallian Mission (VPLM), Ms. Fritzie de Vera and University Chancellor Br. Bernie Oca FSC, FTK 2019 officially commenced.

 

Mini games for big hearts

At the commencement of the mini-olympics session, many children with their Ate/Kuya volunteers immediately made a mad dash towards the inflatable slide. The slide quickly grew in popularity, but so did other attractions like the CSO face-painting booth; the sport-related booths overseen by the marshals; the relay, bowling, and jumping courses organized by the COSCA-LOVE volunteers; as well as other booths prepared by other Lasallian organizations. The children were given medals after completing one activity, and from the way they proudly wore their medals, it was clear just how much it meant to them.

All around the grounds one can see the volunteers with their angels. Some sat on the grass, others engaged in small talk, others just idly walked around trying to decide which booth to visit next. The volunteers in the booths were equally as engaged, cheering for the kids in whatever task they were doing.

 

A day of fulfillment

After going through the inflatable slide, the bowling, and the jelly jump activity centers, I found Erica and Louise in the Oblo Cares booth again. Louise seemed to enjoy bonding with the other children present. Sadly, the program was coming to an end. As the hosts rattled off the raffle prize winners, people gradually began to leave the campus. When it was time to leave, Louise refused to leave Erica’s side, clinging to her waist—even grabbing my hand so she wouldn’t have to go home. We ended up escorting her to the gate, where Erica promised to meet her again the next year.

 

 

Most of the volunteers I talked to said that the event was a tiring yet fulfilling experience. Whether it was their first time or not, they said that they had a lot of fun spending the day with their angels.

Romeo Antonio Macandili (III, BS CHE), one of the organizers of FTK 2019, hopes that the kids leave knowing that they are loved and accepted by the community. He adds that often in life we get so caught up in our work and studies, that we forget to extend a helping hand for other people, like the special children in FTK this year. Serving as a shining example of the true Lasallian spirit, the event closed on a good note—with the children, parents, and volunteers leaving with a smile.