APIDC Celebrates Youth Leadership Institute Graduation

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Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) 2018 graduates Chong Hong (Cal State University Long Beach), Sean Mayeda (Rio Hondo Community College), Tai Wissing (Norco College), Wendy Wong (Pasadena City College), and Vinky Zheng (Cal State University Los Angeles). (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

The nonprofit Asians and Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California (APIDC) honored its 2018 Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) students at a graduation ceremony on May 27 at the Pacifica Sakura Gardens.

Welcome remarks were presented by Anne Haga, who serves as the APIDC board secretary and is an adjunct professor in the Rehabilitation Services Program at Cal State University Los Angeles, and Daniel Kim, co-chair of the Asian Leadership Network at the YLI’s corporate sponsor, Bank of America.

APIDC Chair Patricia Kinaga presented recognitions to APIDC volunteers, including Hector Ochoa from the Southern California Resource Services for Independent Living, who provided the students with a retrospective on the disability rights movement; Wendy Shiba, who provided training to the YLI students on public speaking; and volunteers Matthew Williams and Nicole Wong. Keynote remarks were presented by Pasadena City College Trustee Linda Wah, who encouraged students to become leaders on campuses and on the statewide level.

This year’s YLI graduates — Chong Hong (Cal State University Long Beach), Sean Mayeda (Rio Hondo Community College), Tai Wissing (Norco College), Wendy Wong (Pasadena City College), and Vinky Zheng (Cal State University Los Angeles) — shared with the audience their plans of utilizing the skills they learned from the YLI to raise awareness about and advocate on behalf of Asians and Pacific Islander with all types of disabilities. Their graduation awards were presented by YLI alumni Jonathan Chan, Brian McGrath, Kevin Phung, Cara Vezeau and Nikita Wang.

APIDC hosts the YLI each year for college students with disabilities who are endeavoring to become advocates and leaders on behalf of the often invisible community of people with disabilities. In addition to public speaking skills, participants learn about the Asian American and disability civil rights movements, how to create effective messaging, how to successfully network, the importance of research and data gathering to support advocacy campaigns, how to write effective resumes, and how to navigate the workplace.

APIDC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving a voice and face to Asians and Pacific Islanders with physical, mental and developmental disabilities. Upcoming events for APIDC include its annual Holiday Gala on Nov. 17 at the historic Cicada Restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles, and its sixth Statewide Conference on March 8-9, 2019 at the Disney Grand California Hotel. The conference theme is “Transitions” for youth, young adults, and adults with disabilities transitioning through education and career.

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