For any community to thrive, there needs to be a commitment to young people. Responding to the lack of opportunities for young women in the Laotian community, the Asian Youth Advocates began in the summer of 1995. AYA provides a vehicle to develop young women into leaders and visionaries for their community, and enables them to be problem-solvers and activists. AYA works on issues such as environmental and reproductive health and justice, community involvement and cultural identity.
Since 1995, AYA participants have significantly impacted their community. AYA also works closely with other community-based organizations, allowing the young women to experience different campaign strategies geared towards affecting change on environmental and social issues.
AYA and LOP Build Women’s Leadership
This past summer, the Asian Youth Advocates and LOP initiated an Intergenerational Women’s Leadership Program pilot to address the barriers to women’s leadership in LOP.
The young and elder women were excited to have the opportunity to teach and learn from one another. Activities included a cooking and fruit-picking at a local farm where women and girls discussed ej issuesand expanded their views on women’s leadership. This was also a space to strengthen their cultural roots through activities like embroidering, Laotian women’s main way of storytelling and passing down information from one generation to the next.
Our youth leaders demonstrate that youth are very capable of being leaders within organizations to work towards social change.
"Before APEN, I was like a seed never given the chance to sprout. But over these years, I've been growing like a flower. I can see where my strengths are. And when I look back, I can see that I did do something, not only for myself, but for my community."
Read AYA’s statement on the Impacts of Housing on Youth.
Check out AYA's photography project where they documented the conditions in their schools and neighborhoods through examining issues of housing and education.