On May 5th, 2018, the Angels’ Haven Partnership at Seoul Foreign School hosted the annual Special Olympics, inviting people with disabilities from the Angels’ Haven Eunpyeong Rehabilitation Home. Each student volunteer was assigned a “buddy,” a resident of the Angels’ Haven home.
[Angels’ Haven Volunteers at the Special Olympics]
The Special Olympics was a meaningful event where High School volunteers developed a special bond with the disabled people residing at the Angels’ Haven home. The afternoon was exhilarating. Amidst the Olympics hosted during the hottest time of the day, the Seoul Foreign School field was bustling with smiles and laughter. The high school volunteers and the buddies created memories of singing, dancing, playing sports, and more.
The event was more significant in that it brought the Seoul Foreign School community together; it was planned by the Angels’ Haven Partnership leadership team, but executed by both high school and elementary school volunteers, sports enthusiasts, and the Christian Ministries department. There are many tendencies for high school students to plan and carry out events on their own, and it is rare to see events where different divisions cooperate. The Special Olympics, centered around the theme of inclusion, could only fulfill its purpose if we were inclusive ourselves.
“For Seoul Foreign School students to establish an individualized, long-term relationship with the residents of the Angel’s Haven.”
Mission Statement of the Seoul Foreign School - Angels’ Haven Partnership
All events and fundraisers hosted by the Angels’ Haven Partnership follow the mission statement stated above. The vision, set by the club’s leadership team, wishes that Seoul Foreign High School students are to be the pioneers that break the barriers between those with the disabled people and those who are not, and realize that they too are human. The South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare reported in 2017 that one in seven Korean households has a family member with disabilities. The club believes that the continued marginalization of a large population of our society is unacceptable, and that it is our duty to contribute in a positive direction. I [Jason] have the honor of serving as the Managing Director of the Partnership. It is my desire that the small efforts taken by our students will contribute to creating awareness that people with disabilities cannot be shun into the darkness.
[Angels’ Haven Volunteers and Buddies]
The Special Olympics was the epitome of events showing that the change in perception is possible. Many of our student volunteers had no prior experience in interacting with people with disabilities. Many feared that they would “say the wrong thing,” or not be able to communicate with their buddies. After the event, however, our volunteers realized that those with and without disabilities can interact and have fun together. Students learned that a genuine smile can communicate a thousand times more than words. One volunteer testified after the event that “[she] was scared at first, but in a span of a few hours I’ve really made a valuable friend. I want to meet with him in the future.”
The Seoul Foreign School-Angels’ Haven Partnership is seeking to continue next school year as an active organization in the school community, advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. Through various awareness campaigns, fundraisers, and events like the Special Olympics, the leadership team hopes to positively influence others in the community to be spokespersons for those who are marginalized by society.
Jason Whang (rising 11th)
Seoul Foreign School
Seungwon Choi (rising 10th)
Seoul Foreign School
Jason Whang & Seungwon Choi firstname.lastname@example.org
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