Rising Stars 19 participants. (Photo by Cyril Nishimoto)


The Rising Stars Youth Leadership Program (RSLP) announces its 20th annual program. Any interested high school student can apply now online.

This seven-month program takes place on Saturdays from Sept. 30, 2023, to April 6, 2024, at Union Church in Little Tokyo. Rising Stars offers monthly sessions covering a variety of topics, including but not limited to cultural awareness, persuasive speaking, and networking.

Each Saturday, the sessions are held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and various workshops are offered to teach different leadership skills and discuss topics. Off-site events include a beach outing, a scavenger hunt throughout Little Tokyo. and visits to the Go For Broke National Education Center and the Japanese American National Museum. The program culminates with a major fundraiser, the Rising Stars Annual Miniature Golf Tournament at Camelot Golfland in Anaheim.

Rising Stars team-building exercise at the beach.

RSLP provides applicants with life skills that are applicable both in their daily lives and professional careers. In addition to developing practical skills, many of the workshops are designed to introduce and help applicants discover the unique aspects of Japanese American culture.

Workshops are interactive and very informative. In the networking workshop, applicants meet many professionals with different types of backgrounds. They are given the opportunity to network with the professionals and to gain insight about a variety of careers. Other workshops include learning about Japanese American heritage and what it is like to be culturally aware.

“The cultural heritage workshops we did helped me learn more about the Japanese American community,” said Scotty Nimura from RS19. “This workshop really got me more invested into my grandparent’s lives.”

A scavenger hunt in Little Tokyo included a stop at Fugetsu-Do.

Rising Stars 20 will be also working on a miniature golf tournament, which is organized and run by the participants themselves. This fundraiser allows the participants to apply their skills learned through the program to plan and advertise the event, with the goal of raising money for the next Rising Stars leadership session.

An essential part of the program is that participants form meaningful bonds with one another. The connections made during the program are invaluable and often stay in touch even after the program ends.

Lance Morikawa from RS19 stated, “I am very grateful to have been a part of Rising Stars as I have created many great friendships and learned more about my culture.”

The program costs $250 and includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, and drinks. A maximum of 25 students will be selected to participate in the program, and the application deadline is Sunday, Sept. 3. Applications can be completed online by going to: https://www.risingstarsylp.org/application.html.

For more information, visit the website, https://www.risingstarsylp.org/, or email info@risingstarsylp.org.

Andy Okazaki is a Rising Stars 19 participant and a graduate of the Class of 2023 at Calabasas High School.

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