Filipino Young Leaders Program’s Tayo Announces Act to Change Youth Ambassadors & Virtual Mental Health Workshop for High School Students

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:

Krystle Canare

November 28, 2022


Filipino Young Leaders Program’s Tayo Announces Act to Change Youth Ambassadors & Virtual Mental Health Workshop for High School Students

The Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO) Tayo is pleased to announce its collaboration with Act to Change’s Youth Ambassador Program to mentor high school students on anti-bullying and mental health peer education.


The 2022 FYLPRO Act to Change Youth Ambassadors (in alphabetic order) are:

  1. Abigail Chan (Freshman, Chicago, IL)
  2. Chris Deng (Senior, Chicago, IL)
  3. Tricia Derecho (Senior, New York, NY)
  4. Leyao Annie Dong (Senior, Shanghai, China)
  5. Vivian Kusnoto (Freshman, Chicago, IL)
  6. Alessandra Pador (Senior, Los Angeles, CA)


Over the past eight weeks, FYLPRO served as one of three mentorship sites for Act to Change’s Fall 2022 Youth Ambassador Program. Mentored by FYLPRO Tayo’s Michelle G. Garcia and Christian Flores, ambassadors participated in bi-weekly workshops around Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) mental health. Guest speakers included Dr. Joyce Javier of Filipino Family Health Initiative and daughter Noelani Joo, who spoke about addressing anti-asian hate in school and how to navigate these difficult situations as a family. Michelle G. Garcia representing Thriving Asians, facilitated a workshop on “Mental Health as a Foundation for Success for Filipinx/Asian American Young Leaders,” encouraging students to explore how their cultures & communities support their wellness, and how they can leverage their power as leaders & role models in shaping mentally healthier Filipinx/Asian American communities.


“Each of the students has worked hard these past weeks envisioning how Filipinx/Asian American communities can be more supportive, and honing their skills as peer educators & supporters to actualize those visions,” said Michelle G. Garcia, Co-Mentor for FYLPRO’s Act to Change Youth Ambassadors. “It’s been an honor to mentor and learn from FYLPRO’s youngest leaders yet, and I can’t wait to see the meaningful impacts they continue to make in our communities”


Tomorrow Tuesday, November 29th at 7 PM ET / 4 PM PT, the FYLPRO Act to Change cohort will share their insights and showcase their skills as peer educators in an online mental health workshop titled, “Mental Health Explained: Asian Edition,” geared towards their high school peers. The workshop is free and open to any high school student interested in joining the conversation on AAPI mental health. To register for the workshop, go to:


To support their continued growth, the cohort will meet with previous Act to Change cohorts this December in Chicago, IL for a mental health summit sponsored by the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA). Over the two-day summit, students will engage in topics around AANHPI mental health, suicide prevention, resiliency and the power of allyship. Students will learn from national mental health experts and community leaders while building community with each other. 


“FYLPRO is rooted in empowering youth leaders and we do so by helping them care for their mental wellbeing,” said Krystle Canare, FYLPRO Tayo Mental Health Advisor and Policy Director of NAAPIMHA. “By modeling the way, we hope these dialogues around mental health become the norm.”



About Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO)

FILIPINO YOUNG LEADERS PROGRAM (FYLPRO) is a network of high performing, next-generation leaders who advance the Philippines and the Filipino people through their advocacy and expertise in various industries. 


We continually expand the pipeline of Filipino young leaders in the diaspora.  By connecting them to the motherland, we foster collaborative multinational  relationships that create innovations and support the socio-economic progress of the global Filipino community.


For more information, visit


About Tayo

Tayo, a project of the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO), is an innovative data hub that empowers Filipinx/a/o communities by collecting data, fostering partnerships, publishing culturally relevant insights, and developing leaders to create an equitable and sustainable future.

For more information, visit


About Act to Change

Act To Change is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to address bullying, including in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Act To Change’s Youth Ambassadors Program (YAP) engages and empowers Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth by providing them the resources and tools they need to end bullying in their communities through meaningful conversations, diversification of libraries, and faculty and school administrator engagement.


See below for ambassador’s short bios

2022 Act to Change Youth Ambassadors


Abigail Chan (Freshman, Chicago, IL)

I am a freshman in high school from Chicago Illinois. Mental health and AAPI anti-bullying matter to me because I am Asian myself and have always felt like I couldn’t open up about bullying having to do with asian hate because it wasn’t really talked about. Not just that but I do struggle with my mental health and that sometimes ties into my internalized racism. So I want to be able to let people that they’re not alone in feeling this way and find ways to combat this kind of hate. This also ties in with my reasons in wanting to be a leader. I want to be able to work with others and encourage others to work towards solutions for ongoing issues and hate. My goals for this program is to be a better ally for other communities and be a better advocate for the asian community. I enjoy drawing, crocheting, and writing when I don’t have a writing block. I can be a bit shy at first but once I get comfortable in an environment I talk a lot more.


Chris Deng (Senior, Chicago, IL)

I’m Chris, a high school senior, and I live in Chicago, IL. The continued stress from academics made me realize I needed to take mental health more seriously. It’s important to be a Filipinx/AAPI young leader because when I’m aware of the issues that plague Asian Americans and know how to respond to them, I can be there to listen to and help others who go through similar struggles. My goals with the ATC YAP Program are to learn and become confident in my ability to speak about the injustices. When my college applications aren’t eating away at my sanity, I enjoy playing Minecraft with friends, watching everything funny on Youtube, and practicing the piano.


Tricia Derecho (Senior, New York City, NY)

I’m currently a senior in high school. I’m from New York City but I was born in the Philippines. Filipinx/AAPI anti-bullying and mental health is so important to me because as someone who struggles with mental health, I want to be able to reach out to other Filipinx who are undergoing similar issues that I face. My goals in the Act to Change Youth Ambassador Program is to help enact change in my communities and push administration to ensure a safe environment for people of color. I enjoy reading and making collages for fun.


Leyao Annie Dong (Senior, Shanghai, China)

I am a senior from Shanghai, China. As an avid student activist in my school community, I’ve recognized how systematic forces like the Model Minority and Forever Foreigner myths concretely impact the wellbeing of AAPI students, making them more susceptible to bullying. I applied for this role to further amplify the inseparable connection between racial/ethnic identity, their corresponding social statuses and assumptions, and the everyday experiences of marginalized students—the social and systematic realms are too often detached from conversations surrounding bullying.

Having said so, my goal for the ATC YAP Program is to add greater nuance and impact to my existing initiatives at school, such as running the biweekly Pan-Asian affinity space. I’d also like to enhance my project development skills while elevating my understanding of the lived realities of Filipino communities and students. I’m excited to expand my activism to a greater national scale!

In my downtime, I love painting, writing poetry, playing volleyball, running, and reading! My guilty pleasure is reading fascinating articles on JSTOR…I also love having conversations, regardless of topic, so feel free to reach out!


Vivian Kusnoto (Freshman, Chicago, IL)

I am currently in freshman year of high school. My family is originally from Indonesia, and we live in Chicago, Illinois. Although I have been lucky to not have gotten bullied for being Asian, seeing others being mistreated just because of their nationality is not something to be taken lightly and often makes me feel helpless about not being able to do anything about it. Mental health is an important factor in this, as a person’s mental state will help create a positive influence on how to live their life. Being an AAPI young leader not only helps boost confidence and overall leadership skills, but also gives you a chance to be able to help balance the injustices and hate that is targeted around Asians. My goal here is to be able to educate others about mental health surrounding Asians and how it can affect day-to-day life.


Alessandra Pador (Senior, Los Angeles, CA)

As a Senior from Los Angeles, CA, Filipinx/AAPI anti-bullying and mental health matters to me because I am a Filipino woman. Being surrounded by such a strong Filipino community throughout my childhood, I grew a connection to my culture, and wanted to share it with my peers. Seeing and experiencing all these microaggressions and straight up hate crimes, triggers a sense of purpose in me that I need to fulfill because I want people to understand our perspectives, as Filipinos and part of the AAPI community, and how we feel. My overall goal is to build a strong foundation to support my AAPI Association at school and teach my classmates about embracing culture and why we shouldn’t shy away from where we came from, even if we are scared. I enjoy playing the piano, crocheting, and learning new things.