Children with disabilities from SPED Center, Baguio City visited the Learning Ecopark for Advocating Resources and Nature (LEARN) Ecopark in celebration of the 39th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week on July 17-23, 2017. The visit was made possible through the joint effort and guidance of DENR-CAR and the Watersheds and Water Resources Research Center (WWRRC). A total of 22 hearing and learning-impaired students (14 males and 8 females) were welcomed at the research center.

The children learned from the environmental videos on watersheds and water resources which were shown to them. They enjoyed the educational ecowalk activity which featured games such as “find and point at the national tree, leaf, and flower of the Philippines”, “getting to know local tree species, palm species and bamboo species of Northern Luzon” and “name that tree or technology”. The children also got to know the rescued monkey which WWRRC personnel named “Sabas”. The monkey is being cared for in the rescue center of DENR-CAR located inside the LEARN Ecopark of WWRRC.

To reinforce the connection of the students to the Benguet Pine Forest as part of their environment, WWRRC allowed the students to plant Benguet pine trees (Pinus kesiya) in an area within the arboretum of the LEARN Ecopark. The students plan to visit the area annually to monitor the growth of the trees they have planted and to clean and weed the surroundings.

To show their appreciation for the fun that they had, the hearing and learning-impaired students presented a dance number. The WWRRC personnel were amazed to see them dancing to the music despite their disabilities. Their visit ended with a volleyball game between the hearing-impaired and the learning-impaired students. Minda S. Odsey, WWRRC