DENVER — It's easy to feel like an outsider when there aren't as many people around who look like you.
Representation matters and that's something the non-profit, Asian Girls Ignite, is doing. The group brings Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) girls and women together.
“Just seeing all of us in community together in person is always something that really fills my heart up," said Mehgan Yen, co-founder and chief operating officer of Asian Girls Ignite.
It's a space where they are encouraged to explore their identities and celebrate their strengths, in community, with others.
"In Denver, the Asian American population is 3.7% which is not a lot," said Yen. "It’s very easy to feel like you’re an outsider in almost every space you occupy.”
Feelings of isolation and loneliness become a thing of the past when you have community.
"We wanted to create a space where other Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls can feel a sense of positive belonging and representation," said Yen. "Our programming is focused around storytelling and it is also built on social-emotional learning."
Asian Girls Ignite serves AAPI girls in 6th-12th grade and women through mentorship, storytelling, elevating Asian voices, and outdoor programming. They encourage self-growth, identity exploration, and to help build confidence.
"It's their first time trying boba. It's their first time seeing other Asian-American women represented in their community and so the impact has ranged from, 'This is normal,' to 'This is profound,'" said Yen.
She said it's a space where AAPI girls and women can see the world they've created with their power.
"We've had some parents shed tears of just pride that their daughter is growing in ways they had not seen before after just a week of our programming," said Yen. "Every time I hear that kind of feedback, I cry tears of joy. I feel like I'm holding back tears right now."
She wants all AAPI girls and women to know their stories matter.
"There’s a place for them to celebrate themselves wherever they are," said Yen. "It doesn’t need to be with Asian Girls Ignite, but just recognizing what makes them different is their superpower and that’s what makes them beautiful."
Asian Girls Ignite is expanding. They want to serve the entire state of Colorado, instead of just the Denver metro area. So, they'll begin doing a lot more hybrid and virtual events soon.
“Currently we are the only organization in Colorado serving Asian-American and Pacific Islander girls and women, specifically," said Yen.
You can join the community and participate in events by signing up for their newsletter.
“As long as you feel like you are a powerful AAPI woman, you are welcome to apply and join," said Yen.
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