FWD Life Insurance and Special Olympics championing ‘inclusion’ in partnership

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FWD Life Philippines
Officials of FWD Life Philippines and Special Olympics Philippines with some of the Special Olympics athletes of the country during the recent launch of the partnership between the two groups. -- FWD LIFE PHILIPPINES

POWERED by their common belief that “anybody can make a difference no matter the challenges they face,” Pan-Asian insurer FWD Life Insurance and the Special Olympics recently inked a partnership aimed at pushing their vision for an inclusive environment to provide equal opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Launched in the region in February, the FWD Group threw its support behind the Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities, by donating $1.25 million across the markets where it operates in — Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.

It is hoped that through the partnership people with intellectual disabilities get the proper attention they need amid a current landscape that both FWD and the Special Olympics recognize as posing attitudinal, structural and logistical challenges to people with special needs, particularly in obtaining health care and employment.

In the Philippines, the FWD-Special Olympics partnership was officially launched on April 23 where officials of both groups along with some of the country’s Special Olympics athletes celebrated the “groundbreaking” tie-up.

“Through this partnership, FWD aims to champion the dreams of young people with intellectual disabilities by creating an inclusive environment that provide equal opportunities. FWD supports the vision of Special Olympics: using the power of sports to let people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities. Through this partnership, we are excited to bring to life our Community Care vision — to empower people to live fulfilled lives,” said FWD Life Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Grimes at the partnership launch at the Palms Country Club in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

As part of its Community Care thrust, FWD will support two programs of the Special Olympics, namely the Unified Schools and Athlete Leadership programs.

For the Unified Schools program, FWD will partner with Special Olympics in engaging thousands of young people in workshops and unified activities to educate them about people with intellectual disabilities and train them to develop ways to create social change.

FWD also plans to invite schools and communities to various sports and non-sports activities involving Special Olympics athletes, to celebrate acceptance and inclusion.

The Athlete Leadership program, meanwhile, will have hundreds of athletes with intellectual disabilities undergo training to be empowered, develop leadership skills, utilize their abilities to undertake leadership roles in the Special Olympics movement, and create inclusive communities all over the world.

These activities will be done under the umbrella of FWD’s 2020 Community Care program whose goal is to improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities in Asia by promoting inclusion through rehabilitation and vocational training and generate positive change for the disabled, their families, and their communities.

For Kaye Samson, Special Olympics Philippines National Director, the newly forged linkup with FWD is truly a groundbreaking one and something they are very excited about, just as she encouraged other companies to come on board and join their mission.

“We’re making history with this. FWD is the first biggest supporter of Special Olympics Philippines. We have had corporate partners in the past but it was on a smaller scale, by events [basis]. We are lucky to have FWD on board to help us change lives,” Ms. Samson shared to BusinessWorld on the sidelines of the partnership launch.

“Hopefully more companies from the private sector will be inspired by this and come on board because with a lot of people with intellectual disabilities in the country and all over the world, it is not enough to have only a few people helping. We have to unite and band together, open our hearts, open our companies to people with intellectual disabilities. We already have companies here employing some of our athletes but more can be done,” she added. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo