THE audience at Baguio Convention Center last Wednesday was more disciplined and hushed than usual, as the awardees for contests done earlier were announced.

There were no shrieks or shouts, just courteous applause and hand waves from sections of the convention center as assigned to different groups.

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A gentleman was also alongside the master of ceremonies, relaying what was being said on stage with his own way of communicating with the persons with disabilities (PWDs): sign language.

It was white cane safety week celebration this first week of August, for the visually impaired, now also including differently-abled for speech and hearing, and persons on crutches, canes or on wheelchair who were present, appreciating what was being presented onstage.

Through the City Social Welfare and Development Office, winners for different contests were known: for Poster Making contest.

In the Elementary Category, William Sesto, Joe Cris Yang-yang, and Arnes Krister Layung won third, second and first prize, respectively; while for the High School Catergory, Ma. Bernadette Bautista, Jennica Yongco and Esmael Uyammi garnered the third, second and first prize; respectively.

For the Essay Writing Contest, High School Category, Jennifer Sevilla, Cristin dela Cruz and Samson Farong-ey won the first, second and third place, respectively. In the adult category, Josephine Tangib, Concepcion Taguitag and Geraldine Bayag-o won first, second and third place, respectively.

Anchored on the theme, "Sa Istrukturang Accessible, Lahat ay Able," the celebration was focused on the accessibility of more places for differently-abled through rails, guides and the like in stairs, elevators and public conveyances.

It was also known that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Land Transportation Offrice (LTO) and other concerned agencies should be involved in providing convenience for differently-abled individuals.

The celebration also focused more on capabilities of the differently-abled than on what they could not accomplish.

Assistant City Social Welfare and Development Officer Edith Furigay put it aptly into words in her remarks: that talents and abilities of the differently-abled should be discovered, developed, harnessed and put into use as they move with the mainstream.

The participants proved thus, when the Northern Luzon Association for the Blind (NLAB) children rendered the Doxology, with sign language at the start of the program. An intermission number was also rendered by students of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Institute; and so with Anthony Damasco who interpreted a song.

After a short message exhorting the talents and abilities of the differently-abled, Mayor Mauricio Domogan also rendered an Ilocano song to the audience's delight, with a sign language interpreter by his side.

Dancing, singing and musical-instrument playing contests, and parlor games were done after the program.

A sportsfest was also enjoyed by the children on Friday at the Baguio City National High School Gym. (Julie G. Fianza)