Kizuna’s Youth CAN program offers high school students a unique opportunity during the summer to discover their passion for being involved in the Japanese American community, as well as develop skills and experiences in leadership and community organizing.
The program runs from June 18 to Aug. 19, occurring on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 10 p.m. All sessions are located at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) in Little Tokyo.
Now in its fourth year, the Youth CAN program seeks to build a future for the Japanese American community through the development of a new generation of passionate, effective and thoughtful leaders.
Over the course of the 10 weekly sessions, students engage in interactive workshops discovering personal identity, exploring important community issues and addressing critical needs in the Japanese American community through community service projects.
The program is built with two tracks, each providing a unique and valuable experience. Track 1 is built for students new to the Youth CAN program. This track introduces concepts of identity, community and Little Tokyo to incoming students. Students learn the basics about the Japanese American community as well as their individual role in its future.
Track 2, developed for returning students, focuses on conceptualizing and implementing community service projects. Students utilize the skills learned and networks built in previous years to create projects that have a positive impact on the community.
Together, these tracks provide a continual space for high school students to be engaged and involved in the Nikkei community annually during the summer.
The Youth CAN program is one of several programs hosted by Kizuna that seek to build a pipeline of leadership for the Japanese American community. Together, these programs offer a wide variety of learning experiences and ensure commitment from the next generation of youth. Graduates of the Youth CAN program have gone on to take leadership roles in college student organizations or have even come back as counselors for the program, looking to pass on their knowledge.