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  • Loy Bernal Carlos


The Autism Hearts Foundation joins fashion and fine arts in an innovative program called the Fashion Arts Autism Benefits (FAAB) Project that uses art therapy and fashion design to help youths with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) lead fuller and richer lives.

Started just one year ago by AHF’s CEO/Founder Erlinda Borromeo, FAAB Project enables individuals with ASD to courageously overcome challenges by promoting healthy self-expression, building essential life skills and providing inclusive opportunities for them in the creative arts. The entire FAAB Project includes an educational art therapy program and a series of fashion shows.

Students produce original works of art on canvases made of piña cloth. This distinctive fabric is produced from the leaves of a pineapple plant and is indigenous to the Philippines. FAAB artist’s hand-drawn creations are transformed into fabulous outfits, gowns and accessories by distinguished fashion designers who showcase them in runways around the world.

Autism Hearts Foundation was founded in 2008 in San Francisco by Erlinda P. Borromeo, who also successfully launched the Autism Network for Global Education and Lifelong Support (ANGELS) in 2004 and Autism Hearts Philippines, Inc. in 2007 in Manila. AHF envisions a world in which the needs of all individuals affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders are met, and the cultural and cognitive diversity of people living on the spectrum is celebrated, not stigmatized. It works to maximize the potential of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders to learn, to develop, to function independently, and to participate in a full range of social and cultural activities, thus improving their quality of life.

Some of the designs produced by the FAAB Project will be presented at the Fashion for Hope International Runway Show on Friday, April 7, 2017 at 7 pm at the Philippine Center’s Kalayaan Hall at 556 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY.

The fashion show features incredible artworks created by FAAB Project artists and incorporated into gorgeous fashion apparel by world renowned designers Anthony Cruz Legarda and Patis Tesoro. The event is open to the public. Admission is $100 per person and includes the pre-show reception at 6 pm. Proceeds from the Fashion for Hope benefit will go to the AHF to support the FAAB Project. The Philippines Consulate General Theresa (Tess) B. Dizon-De Vega, a strong supporter of the Autism Hearts Foundation, will be giving the welcoming remarks at the event.

Other events for the week that are by invitation only, include an FAAB Art Exhibit at the United Nations from April 3-6, with an opening reception on April 3rd from 6-8 pm for various dignitaries, UN delegates and spouses, along with project sponsors, supporters and their guests. Several of the FAAB children artists and their families will also attend.

On April 5th at the Philippine Center, there will be workshops from 3-5 pm for the FAAB artists. A silent auction will follow from 6-8 pm where a number of demos by FAAB artists will be sold along with many other artworks by professional artists. All proceeds from the auction will benefit the AHF and the FAAB Project. The FAAB FASHION FOR HOPE International Runway Show is made possible through the collaboration of Autism Speaks, United Nations World Focus on Autism, World Health Organization, Philippine Mission to the United Nations, Philippines Consulate Generals of New York and San Francisco, and the Filipino-American Communities of San Francisco, New York and New Jersey.

More about Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that affects the person's social, communication and behavioral capabilities creating serious challenges in learning and development. It knows no boundaries occurring in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. The Mayo Clinic says “Autism spectrum disorder is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It also includes restricted repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. These issues cause significant impairment in social, occupations and other areas of functioning.” “Spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity. Asperger’s syndrome is now included in autism spectrum disorder and is considered at the mild end of the spectrum.

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