Professor Abelardo Apollo David Jr is an occupational therapist and educator who has dedicated his career to creating inclusive education and development opportunities for differently-abled children across the Philippines. Widely known as “Teacher Archie”, he has founded multiple organisations aimed at driving accessible and inclusive health, education and livelihood programs for marginalised communities.
Teacher Archie started his career studying Occupational Therapy at the University of the Philippines. During his internships, he quickly discovered his passion for working with children with developmental conditions such as autism, down syndrome, and cerebral palsy. After graduating, he started teaching at the university, before travelling to Australia to undertake a Masters degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Queensland. Soon after returning to the Philippines, he decided to put his learnings into practice, and at the age of 26 years old, he poured his own savings into launching the first Independent Living Learning Center. What started with just four students has now grown to be the largest private school for children with special needs in the Philippines. Teacher Archie also founded the Academia Progresiva de Manila and the Rehabilitation and Empowerment of Adults and Children with Handicap (REACH) Foundation, providing support for community based rehabilitation and education programs right across the Philippines. Teacher Archie’s work has been recognised globally as a model of best practice, and in 2015 he was awarded the prestigious United Nations Public Service Award. A true person of service, he finds great reward in celebrating the milestones achieved by his students, on their path to independence and empowerment.