From last year’s “Metamorphosis,” Kythe-Ateneo picked up the pace for its flagship internal advocacy event Kythe Week, held last February 9-14, with the theme “Kaleidoscope.”
“Kaleidoscope was chosen as the theme because it emphasized the beauty in our differences, with the bits and fragments of a kaleidoscope representing us Kythers, the kids, and their families. Much like the fragments in a kaleidoscope, even though we’re all different, when we come together as one, we seem to create a beautiful pattern,” Project Head Katharine Nerva shares. “One of our ‘slogans’ actually best encapsulated this: ‘Our colors come alive when we collide.’”
Slated for the event were an advocacy talk with Philippine Children’s Medical Center Child Life Coordinator Chay Ramos and cancer survivor Janine; a photo walkthrough; and a Wall of Thumbs. One new addition to Kythe Week was the Gold Ribbon Campaign; upon learning that the gold ribbon was the symbol of childhood cancer awareness, Project Heads Katharine, Alec Parafina, and Leandra Yu pushed for the initiatives of selling T-shirts with gold ribbons printed on them, together with the organization’s finance department; a video promotion within the school; and a pledging of bandanas for the kids during Kythe Flying, with the gold ribbon lapel pin as a token.
Returning to the roster were the blood drive, Be Brave Get Shaved, and Hair2Share. The success of these activities in past years and the strong partnerships carried over with other organizations has given Kythe-Ateneo the opportunity to sustain the impact outside of Kythe Week. Partners Matrix PH had earlier teamed up with Kythe-Ateneo for the one-day “Cuts for Cancer” challenge event in SM North; the Pre-Medical Society of the Ateneo and the Philippine Blood Disease and Transfusion Center, as well as the blood bank of PCMC, continued to be beneficiaries of the blood drive. Moreover, major salons Piandre, Toni & Guy, Azzanzi, and Lifestyle offered to extend the Hair2Share project, allowing those who did not get to participate on time to share their hair later on in the year.
“H2S/BBGS is really one of the main events of Kythe Week and it’s just really so nice to see people participate in it, especially those who you don’t expect to participate. We didn’t just get students to participate but some faculty members and even parents. It’s memorable to see everyone there, because I think what’s really great about H2S/BBGS is that it gives the people the opportunity to help not just through material things but by sharing themselves to the kids. It’s amazing to see these people, who don’t know the kids, give a part of themselves to our kids and share in our advocacy,” says Leandra.
At the heart of celebrating Kythe Week was a celebration of the kids’ lives—the strength, hope, and courage passed on by them to the Kythe community, even after their passing on. The Commemoration Ceremony, where balloons were released as a tribute to them, was also an avenue for the students to honor beloved Kyther Sei Hsieh, whose presence in Kythe as a volunteer inspired everyone around her.
A program, booths, photo opportunities with familiar cartoon and movie characters, and the yearly ride around Bellarmine Field in the red fire truck awaited the Kythe kids at Kythe Flying, Kythe Week’s culminating activity.
Project Head Alec Parafina remembers the excitement of the kids while overseeing them on the truck: “That was the time where I was able to talk and play with the kids, ask them how they are, and they shared to me how much fun they’re having, all the booths and the games and the prizes they got.… [From that interaction with them,] I was able to have a first-hand experience on feeling that sense of relief that despite all the tiny problems I encountered in planning everything, I was actually able to give these kids an afternoon of the childhood that they deserve—their happiness made me truly happy.”
“For Kythe Flying, the most memorable thing is seeing the kids enjoy the booths and fly their kites,” says Leandra. “It’s so simple, but I guess that itself reminds us of why we have the event in the first place. The smiles we see in the kids are empowering because they’re so genuine, and we know through that they at least, we have made them feel like they’re normal and beyond their illness.”
Kythe Week 2015 opens up Kythe-Ateneo’s yearlong commitment of advocacy to the kids, and this year, Katharine, Leandra, and Alec wish for them to continuously feel empowered and see themselves beyond their illness–to fly and be greater than the limits society has set for them.