Sun Shine: To great effect, group helps kids bond, make impact

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Language barriers, social anxiety, mental health and poverty are but a few disadvantages faced daily by the Southeast Asian refugee community in Worcester.

Often unable to communicate effectively to gain proper employment and display their work ethic, the refugee community can be a stone unturned. With little income, hard living conditions and limited access to city resources, they stay unnoticed in the shadows of a second chance at life.

How can people looking for a greater purpose and sense of autonomy have the opportunity to do so when there are so many differences among the cultures and the priorities of the community? Thousands of area residents are of Southeast Asian ancestry, including many of fairly recent arrival. Coupled with cultural differences and sometimes devastation faced in their countries of origin, this population indirectly yearns to obtain a voice of their own.

The coalition administers a program that gives kids a broader sense of belonging.

Giselle Rivera-Flores / For Worcester Sun

The coalition administers a program that gives kids a broader sense of belonging.

Often individuals struggling the most in all facets of their life as a Southeast Asian living in Worcester are between the ages of 10 and 19. “Our Youth Effect is comprised of children starting as young as 10 years. The youth of the Southeast Asian Coalition [of Central Massachusetts] have a huge responsibility to balance the obligations of family life, financial burdens of the family at a young age and the ability to study and work as productive citizens,” says Anh Sawyer, executive director of the Southeast Asian Coalition.

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