By NICOLE HANAMOTO
The Rising Stars Youth Leadership Program is dedicated to strengthening the leadership skills of high school students from across Southern California.
The students are taught valuable lessons over a seven-month course in teamwork, persuasive and assertive speaking, networking, and financial fitness to use in the workplace and throughout their future. The program also encourages students to explore Japanese American heritage and includes a tour of Little Tokyo from the Japanese American National Museum’s guides.
Using the skills they have learned, the students are given a chance to express their abilities when organizing a miniature golf tournament at the end of the program. Students work well together, developing friendships through hours of peer cooperation and friendship-building activities.
“Being a member in the Rising Stars Youth Leadership Program has really taught me valuable skills in leadership that I can use not just in the future but today as well,” said program participant Nicole Hanamoto. “I have become significantly more comfortable at speaking assertively, something I have not been able to do well before.
“This program has also reminded me to keep involved and continue giving back to the Japanese American community. I’ve always felt connected to the Japanese American community, going to the Orange County Buddhist Church and playing SEYO basketball, but now I appreciate the Japanese American culture and community so much more.”
Hanamoto added, “One of my favorite things about the program was meeting all of the students from across Southern California. I enjoyed the beach outing at the beginning of the program to really form friendships and break the ice. From not knowing each other at the beginning to becoming close friends, I feel that we have connected well with each other, recognizing a common goal and common background.
“I encourage students to apply for the Rising Stars program to make lasting friendships and learn valuable lessons to use throughout their lives.
“We are hosting our 10th annual Miniature Golf Tournament to support future programs for high school participants. We are selling raffle tickets at $2 each and looking for sponsors and goodie bag donations as well. With your help, the Rising Stars program can continue to educate students of the Japanese American community on leadership and cultural values.”
The tournament will be held Saturday, March 2, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Camelot Golfland, 3200 Carpenter Ave., Anaheim.
First prize in the raffle is an iPad 2, second prize is a digital camera, and third prize is $150 cash. And a special “Mystery Prize” can be won. There will also be many other prizes, so don’t be discouraged.
Tournament tickets will be pre-sold for $15 (adults) and $12 (12 and under) and sold at the door for $20 (adults) and $15 (12 and under). Lunch-only tickets for non-golfers will be sold for $8 in advance and $10 at the door.
The Rising Stars Youth Program is sponsored by the Nikkei Federation a non-profit organization. The Rafu Shimpo is the media sponsor and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center is the facility sponsor. All sessions are held at the JACCC in Little Tokyo.
Nicole Hanamoto is a participant in the 10th annual Rising Stars youth leadership program and is a member of the publicity committee. She is a junior at Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton. Twenty members of the 2012-2013 RS10 program have been trained by professionals in their fields in workshops including “Working in Groups,” “Assertiveness,” “Networking,” “Speaking to Persuade,” “Cultural Values,” and “Financial Fitness” with a goal of building future leaders of the Japanese American community.