This non-profit entity is committed to enriching the lives of children with special education needs
One World School has been a staunch advocate of educational equality for children of all abilities since 2013. Founded upon the cornerstone that all children have the potential to learn and be successful despite learning differences, the school continues to champion its mission and vision to level the playing field, so to speak, for kids of all skill levels.
The school acknowledges that every child comes to them at different stages of development, with varying capabilities, capacities, and degrees in their readiness to learn. But, one thing the school has always done is to focus on every child’s abilities rather than on their limitations. To this end, the school’s curricular framework considers each child’s learning profile. Also to this end, the school’s founder and headmaster, Ericson J. Perez, continues to introduce innovative ideas to strengthen the learning and growth process of its students.
The newest innovation? The Surf and Turf Club.
Connecting children with the great outdoors
Perez started The Surf and Turf Cub in September of 2017, with an inaugural surfing activity for the students and their families at Nalu Surf Resort, in Sabang, Baler, Aurora. Five students and their families participated in the initial activity.
“I wanted to share my love for hiking and surfing with our teachers, students, and their families. I love being active and being outside, especially hiking and surfing,” Perez shares. “Besides the pure fun of being outside, there are many other benefits of being active in the great outdoors, such as helping one relax, staying focused, and building more confidence in one’s physical strength and stamina.”
Perez knew in his gut that the children would benefit greatly from the connection with nature – and he wasn’t wrong. After the kickoff activity, he received lots of positive feedback from the parents and teachers of the students who participated. The parents and educators, alike, reported that the children were more confident and conversant, and some of the students felt like they had gained more friends at school.
In October 2017, the club ventured out to Mt. Talamitam, Batangas, for its second offering, a hiking adventure on nature’s turf, with four students and their families having joined in the fun. Later that same month, the club held another surf activity in Sabang, with nine students and their families in attendance.
Continuing the good work
But Perez is aware that for lasting change and progress to take place, the momentum must be sustained, and the club must continue to foster a safe, fun-filled, impactful experience for the participants.
“For us to observe marked changes in students, or the marked positive influence surfing and/or hiking has on them, it will take time. There has to be a core group of club advisors who also love to surf and hike. The families have to see that their children enjoy these activities, develop new skills, and form stronger relationships especially with their classmates and teachers,” Perez details.
The stalwart headmaster and his team of dedicated teachers and club advisors keep on with the good work they have started, knowing fully-well that the children will reap the rewards in more ways than one.
“We aim to create more safe places for inclusion outside of the school community; to build students’ skills and strength, as well as confidence in their abilities; and to create opportunities for immersion in and appreciation of our natural environment,” Perez points out.
Taking that step of courage
To take on new challenges requires courage – the kind that does not back down in the face of fear of the unknown. Perez knows that, for many of the students and their families, this is the reality with which they must grapple, when embarking on a big adventure for the first time.
“It’s a huge risk to participate in these strenuous, sometimes scary, activities, since so many of us are always inside. Taking this risk, being willing to expose oneself to nature and to having other people see your vulnerabilities on the mountain and/or ocean – it’s a huge step to take, and it shows how much courage they have,” he notes.
But, with more Surf and Turf Club activities already lined up for 2018, the Headmaster is confident that more and more students and their families will be willing to take that risk, knowing that the benefits will outweigh their initial trepidations, by far.
A mindset of determination
Fueled by the school’s goals for each of its students, Perez points out that the Surf and Turf Club is “also creating another way for the community to see for themselves that individuals with special needs can achieve. We just need to make sure we find ways to create the right conditions for it to happen. The mind set must be, “How can we make this happen?”
And, it is this mindset of determination – combined with a spirit of commitment and a heart of compassion – that enables The One World School to make a real difference in the lives of its students, one unique and amazing child at a time.
By ANGIE DUARTE