By Jam Bufi

ComCo Southeast Asia continues to be a champion of mental health and overall wellness for Filipinos with its partnership with Unilab Foundation for its National Play Advocacy Week and Filipino Family WellBeing Virtual Conference.

The long-standing partnership started in 2018 when, as part of the culminating activity of the award-winning Camp ComCo Mentorship Program, ComCo Southeast Asia tasked its young ComCowans (apprentices) to create a full communications plan for Unilab Foundation’s Play Advocacy Week that year with representatives from Unilab Foundation themselves as the judges. Impressed by the Camp ComCo apprentices’ creative ideas, the activity quickly blossomed into a meaningful collaboration.

Unilab Foundation launched the Play Advocacy Week in 2018 with the belief that play is a right, that it is essential to a child’s wellbeing and development. The foundation aimed to eliminate the idea that play is “laru-laro lang” (it’s just play and it’s not important) so that children would always have access to play.

To help promote the importance of play, Play Advocacy Week 2018 was launched with a grand kick-off at the Mind Museum attended by media and partner organizations. The team also created a video dance challenge based on the popular children’s game “Shagidi-Shagidi Shapopo” that was shared on social media and with its partners.

This year, ComCo Southeast Asia and Unilab Foundation once again collaborated for two of its projects – the National Play Advocacy Week 2020 and the first-ever Filipino Family WellBeing Virtual Conference.

Since its launch in 2018, Play Advocacy Week has now grown into a national event led by the Philippine Play Coalition (PPC), a network of child-focused organizations. While its fourth year was held during unprecedented times, the pandemic did not stop it from pushing through and empowered the team, even more, to make play happen for children in a time of great emotional stress due to different crises.

In time for National Children’s Month, the kick-off for the week-long celebration premiered virtually with presentations on the topic of play and mental health from the Department of Education and St. Luke’s Medical Center, with a panel discussion from event partners. The event was also supported by esteemed leaders such as Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Risa Hontiveros, who gave messages of hope during the event.

Aside from the National Play Advocacy Week, Unilab Foundation also launched the first-ever Filipino Family WellBeing Virtual Conference, which tackled the importance of Filipino family well-being especially during the pandemic where Filipino families faced an abundance of challenges and issues economically, socially, and psychologically.

The two-day conference was launched through a virtual press launch where a panel composed of members of the Bayanihan for WellBeing (BWB) Collaborative, the organizing committee of the conference, talked about topics such as challenges faced by families, the role of family well-being in addressing these issues, children’s mental health and well-being, and more. The same panelists also participated in a Q&A with attending media where relevant questions led to insightful discussions.

The fight for mental health in the country goes on and ComCo Southeast Asia believed in the power of initiatives like these from Unilab Foundation, which are essential in initiating and propelling the discussion on mental health. ComCo Southeast Asia is committed to helping propagate this important discussion and continuing to be a partner of Unilab Foundation in creating a healthier Philippines.