Tuesday, May 1, 2018


Brina Kei Maxino poses for the media after she writes on the Pledge Wall hoping for a united world.

Last April 23,2018, the local media together with several bloggers and members of Special Olympics Philippines were invited to participate in a Special Olympics Bowling Event hosted by FWD Life Insurance.  There were five teams assembled and I was chosen to join the Gray Team. Our seven-member team had two awesome special athletes who were born with intellectual disabilities. Both of them inspired and moved me. Twenty-one-year-old Brina Kei
Maxino was born with Down-Syndrome. At a young age, her parents were told that she would not even get to finish grade school. Knowing this, she stopped at nothing and persevered. Her disability was not a hindrance to continue her schooling, and graduated from college with a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in History. Wow indeed! My Gray Team unfortunately did not win the tournament, but I know all the participants that day learned that we should believe in our brothers and sisters with disabilities and help them in society. We should make them feel loved and accepted because they all should experience the most fulfilling lives they deserve.

The Gray Team

Pan-Asian insurer FWD Life Insurance believes there is a champion in all of us and that anybody can make a difference no matter the challenges they face. In line with this belief, the most exciting insurance brand in the country today launched its global partnership with the Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities.

“Through this partnership, FWD aims to champion the dreams of young people with intellectual disabilities by creating an inclusive environment that provide equal opportunities,” said FWD Life Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Grimes. “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.”

FWD Life Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Grimes with FWD Life Philippines Chief Operating Officer Rien Hermans, and  FWD Life Philippines Head of Marketing Rochelle Vendenberghe pose with Special Olympic Philippines members

FWD and Special Olympics Philippines celebrated the beginning of the partnership with a bowling friendship 
match participated by athletes from both organizations as well as members of the media, held on April 23, 2018 at The Palms Country Club in Muntinlupa City. Asia-based FWD Group, which launched their region-wide
support to Special Olympics in Hong Kong in February, is donating US$ 1.25 million across the markets where it operates: Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and Japan.

15% of the world lives with a disability. Of these, more than 200 million have an intellectual disability making them one of the world’s biggest disability groups and one of the most underserved populations. People with intellectual disability face enormous attitudinal, structural, and logistical barriers to obtaining healthcare and getting a job. These compounding factors mean that many struggle with poverty and have significantly shorter lifespans than the general population.

Encouraging inclusion through sports

“FWD Life Philippines has always been keen about addressing the needs of people across different lifestyles by teaching them and equipping them to live life to the fullest," FWD Life Philippines Head of Marketing and Community Care Lead Roche Vandenberghe noted. "Through the partnership with the Special Olympics, FWD hopes to change how society perceives people with intellectual disabilities, that despite their condition, they
can make valuable contributions to society and should be given opportunities to do so," she added.

FWD Life Philippines Head of Marketing and Community Care Lead Roche Vandenberghe

Kaye Samson, Special Olympics Philippines National Director, said, “We are delighted to welcome FWD to the Special Olympics family. This new partnership with FWD in the Philippines will make a difference to the lives of our athletes and young people. Together, we will collaborate to create a unified generation people with and without intellectual disabilities working together for an inclusive society, where respect, tolerance, and human equality prevail.”

FWD to support Special Olympics’ Unified Schools and Athlete Leadership programs

To fulfill their dream of an inclusive environment with equal opportunities for people with disabilities, FWD,through its Community Care program, will support two Special Olympics programs—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.

On the other hand, for the Athlete Leadership program, hundreds of athletes with intellectual disabilities will 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.

“Stop the ridicule, choose to include.”

During the FWD-Special Olympics Philippines partnership launch, FWD Life Philippines also launched its support for the campaign to end "the R-Word." During the event, guests and participants of the bowling match pledged to stop using the R-Word, which is short for the word "retarded," considered exclusive, offensive, and derogatory. The said R-Word aims to drive people to stop saying the R-word and other similar words as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for a more inclusive society.

Other Photos:

Carl and Brina lead the Zumba warm-up exercise before the bowling event

Rien Hermans joins in the fun.

Rien Hermans shows off his lucky orange bowling ball.

Certificate of Appreciation given to each team. 

Briefing before the games.


Monch "Monchster" Henares is a writer for the Philippine Daily Inquirer's "Road Talk", blogger @ Monchster Chronicles, tech and motoring specialist, inventor, and automotive engineer. He managed the motorpool for a limousine company in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. He is now based in Manila, Philippines.

You may e-mail him at monchnrs@gmail.com
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