Markham, ON – On Thursday, May 26th, 2022, the “Live Well, Take Action: Ambassador Program for East Asian Youth” held its final Student Celebration to recognize its youth participants in honour of Asian Heritage Month. Two organizations – ALPHA Education and the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO) – collaborated on this program that aims to empower East Asian youth by exploring their social identities and providing them with the tools to become agents of social change.
Through culturally relevant approaches and hands-on activities, the program centered East Asian experiences to build confidence and promote well-being. Students also focused on developing their skills in communication, critical thinking, wellness and community building.
As part of program completion to become an ambassador, students created projects that raised awareness of issues affecting Asian communities, such as racism, mental health and homophobia. These projects were featured at the Student Celebration as an exhibition where friends, family, school staff and the general public joined the youth participants in learning with and from one another over a community dinner. To align with the program’s goals of civic engagement and allyship, Kim Wheatley, an Ojibwe Anishinaabe
Grandmother from Shawanaga First Nation Reserve, was invited to open the Student Celebration and share some teachings.
Past participants Ginny An and Brandon Chen returned to speak about the program’s impact on their attitudes and perspectives, and how they had become more engaged in their communities.
Ginny revealed that she used to be hesitant about her Korean culture but she had now grown to be more confident about herself after accepting her Asian identity. She was also able to be more assertive about her career choices and took on a more creative path, which her parents eventually learned to embrace, as Asian children were stereotypically pressured to consider STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – for their future careers.
Brandon gave a testimonial about his journey of becoming an activist and leader in his community. The opportunities that the program gave him exposed him to new learning experiences, such as presenting about anti-Asian racism in public spaces – a topic that was relevant due to the COVID pandemic. Brandon also stressed the importance of giving back to your own people, especially as a Chinese person. He encouraged this year’s student participants to continue speaking out on social issues and to challenge the status quo whenever they can.
Both Ginny and Brandon touched upon the need to reconnect with their Asian identities to strengthen their sense of self, as it had allowed them to find more purpose in their life choices.
They found themselves working in political, social and community sectors, and supporting people, particularly those who were marginalized. They also expressed gratitude for the “Live Page 1 of 2
Well, Take Action” program in encouraging them to center their Asian identities and to be a leader in helping Canada become a better place.
For the past few years, over 50 projects have been showcased at schools and in communities across the Greater Toronto Area. So far, 150 students from seven high schools in the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) have become program ambassadors and this year, another 80 students from four additional schools will join them along with their contribution of 25 new community projects.
ALPHA Education is a non-profit and registered charity in Canada that promotes a critical historical inquiry of World War 2 in Asia that contributes to peace and reconciliation. CCNCTO is an organization of Chinese Canadians in the City of Toronto that promotes equity, social justice, inclusive civic participation, and respect for diversity. For more information about the “Live Well, Take Action” program, visit: www.livewelltakeaction.com or follow its social media accounts
(Instagram: @livewelltakeaction; Twitter: @lwta_program). The ”Live Well, Take Action” program has been funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) since 2016.
Organization Contacts for Media Inquiries:
Judy Cho, Program Manager Jaclyn Wong, Program Manager