On a chill evening, YAC members Kathy and Vivian joined the warm crowd of IWAY’s API Talent Show: Lifting the Voices of API Youth. IWAY stands for “Improving the Wellness of Asian Youth,” and they are part of a collaboration between Asian Health Services and Public Health Institute to promote wellness in the API community. Their youth interns and adult allies planned a spectacular show for the youth in Oakland at the Department of Make Believe. The small venue decorated with a beautiful chalk wall and funky furniture quickly became filled with students, local organization representatives, adult allies, and talented performers. A few organizations, including ourselves the Youth Advisory Council, had a table near the back to spread awareness and resources about domestic violence.
When the lights dimmed, performers of all sorts took the stage. This event, similar to YAC’s very own That’s Not Love Talent Show, promoted a literal and figurative platform for Asian Pacific Islander youth whose non-academic talents are rarely recognized in media. Near the end of the talent show, IWAY’s youth interns opened up a panel where they answered questions about mental health and wellness. At this moment, the space became even more intimate and held a strong sense of community. The interns opened up to the audience about their personal stories and experiences of mental health issues. The audience was attentive and respectful, and the interns were able to reflect the questions back to the audience. All in all, IWAY held an incredible talent show that engaged youth in thought-provoking questions about mental health and wellness in the API community while showcasing the wonderful talents of API youth.