Following its successful run in October last year, SM Cares has launched The Blackout Zone, an exhibit designed to simulate blindness, last March 3 in SM City Clark in Pampanga to promote blind awareness among SM mall-goers, employees and tenants there, in line with the advocacy of enabling a barrier-free and disability inclusive environment for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in its malls.
The Blackout Zone is an experiential exhibit where participants can experience a day in the life of a person with blindness. In this immersive exhibit, participants will be asked to fulfill simple tasks in a safe setting without sight. These tasks include tying a shoe, preparing food, and watching a movie. This is a way for SM Cares to help mall-goers, tenants, and employees in SM Malls become more aware of the challenges encountered by people who are blind on a daily basis, and in turn, develop a sense of care and affection for them so that they are more considerate and understanding of their needs.
Those who want to participate in the exhibit may head to Cinema 6 in SM City Clark. The exhibit is open to participants who are aged 12 to 55 and have no history of nyctophobia and/or claustrophobia.
The exhibit's Pampanga leg will last until March 19, 2023, and is the first in a series of exhibits covering select SM malls in the country. Succeeding legs will be held tentatively from March 22 to April 16, 2023 in SM City Tanza; April 19 to May 14, 2023 in SM Seaside Cebu; May 17 to June 3, 2023 in SM Lanang Premier; and August 1 to 20, 2023 in SM Megamall.
The exhibit is being held in partnership with the Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Inc., Resources for the Blind, Inc., Philippine Blind Union, the National Council on Disability Affairs, and Mabalacat City College, with support from the Department of Health, Department of Education, and Commission on Higher Education.
The Blackout Zone is just one of the many ways SM Cares is supporting the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, particularly "SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities."
Other PWD-friendly initiatives from SM Cares include the annual Angels Walk in partnership with Autism Society Philippines, held every January in celebration of National Autism Consciousness Week; the annual Happy Walk in partnership with Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Inc., held every February in celebration of National Down Syndrome Consciousness Month; the annual Sensitivity Training for Customers with Different Needs, which educates mall staff and security personnel on how to care for PWDs; and the annual Emergency Preparedness Forum which educates PWDs and senior citizens on what to do during emergencies.
SM Cares is the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Supermalls, supporting initiatives focused on communities and the environment. Aside from the program on PWDs, its advocacies include Programs for the Environment, Women & Breastfeeding Mothers, Children & Youth, Senior Citizens, and the SM Bike-friendly initiative.
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