28 March 2022
Interview with Paul Mendoza, president of Psoriasis Philippines about their youth work
Psoriasis Philippines (PsorPhil) is an IFPA member and a very active patient organization that organize a lot of events and activities for their members and for the general public. One of the most notable PsorPhil campaigns is called the Campus Caravan of Hope. Paul (President of Psoriasis Phillippines), tells me that this campaign is essentially an awareness campaign in which the youth chapter of PsorPhil visits schools and campuses to educate young people about psoriatic conditions. They visit students of all ages, ranging from middle school students up to high school and even college. During this campaign, they unpack what psoriatic disease is, its usual manifestations and the hardships that often accompany it. The centerpiece of the program is the speaker living with psoriatic disease who shares their personal experience. Their moving story includes topics such as challenges during childhood and school years, bullying, stigma and judgment from others, or feelings of detachment and isolation due to their condition. With these personal stories, the students get to empathize with their youthful audience. Paul tells me that the campaign was started because PsorPhil had a member who experienced bullying at school. PsorPhil visited this student’s school in hopes of breaking down some common and harmful misconceptions about psoriatic disease.
These misconceptions about the condition being contagious or caused by poor hygiene can be very harmful to persons living with psoriatic disease. If these myths can be disproven as early as possible among children so that they will not spread further and future generations will be spared some of the burden of psoriatic disease.
Paul was one of the founders of PsorPhil, which came about around 15 years ago. He tells me that he and the other founders wanted to create hope and empower youth to see beyond their condition. According to him, a sense of community is very important for youth with psoriatic disease. On a personal note, meeting other people with psoriatic disease through the organization has given Paul a great deal of hope as well. Through his work, Paul finally got the chance to feel understood by others who were going through the same experience. Others who could understand his feelings and fears and feel empathy. It was also very empowering for him to meet others with psoriatic disease who were succeeding in their careers and in what they did. Their achievements gave him hope of a bright future where psoriatic disease wasn´t an obstacle. Paul wants the IFPA community to know that it is important to spend time with youth with psoriatic disease and to open avenues for them to help. Many of them want to contribute to help others in their community and just need to know how to do it.
One such avenue that PsorPhil has created is their PsorCoach program. Which is a yearly program to train youth with psoriatic disease as coaches for other youth with the condition.
Psorphil also organizes an event which they call the national youth summit. This event takes place every two years and is all about empowering youth with psoriatic disease. The program accommodates approximately 50 young people, teaching different topics such as leadership and organization management. PsorPhil also trains their youth leaders to be active in other youth organizations. They want their youth to engage with other advocacy groups.
IFPA is proud to have PsorPhil as one of our members and of the wonderful, empowering work that they do for youth with psoriatic disease!