Annie Yu will travel to China at the end of this month

Youth group to advocate for children with disabilities

Group of 25 youth to travel to China and work with government

A South Surrey teen will be among a team of 25 travelling to China July 28 in order to advocate for children with disabilities.

SDC Blue Ribbon Foundation International aims to “establish adaptive programs and events to support and empower children with disabilities locally and globally.”

The youth-led group was founded in 2010 by Richmond resident David J. Wang when he and his friends were only 15.

Now, four years later, 16-year-old member Annie Yu, who recently moved to South Surrey from Richmond, will be among a group that will speak to the Chinese government at the municipal, provincial and national level about social-welfare policies affecting children with disabilities.

Yu, who still attends school in Richmond, first became involved with SDC two years ago, when she began volunteering after school with the organization, helping children with special needs.

“I was working one-on-one with children with disabilities,” she said. “There is definitely a need for (an upgrade) for programs in schools. We do have a life-skill program, but no one is really interacting with the kids.”

When the opportunity came to travel to China, Yu decided to take on the challenge.

“We’ll obviously be speaking to the government, and we’ll also be visiting schools and donating supplies,” she said. “We’ll also be volunteering at the Oxfam Rehabilitation Centre.

“We’re definitely hoping to achieve awareness because children with disabilities, especially in China, are often neglected.”

While abroad, the youth will share their goals for “disability justice and youth empowerment” with students at international schools, professors and government officials, as well as their research and experience running after-school programs, including the SDC After-School Connection music therapy program in Richmond and the SDC Birthday Surprise program in Surrey.

Since it has been established, the organization has helped more than 100 children with disabilities locally and globally through fundraisers, projects and therapy programs, according to an SDC release.

While Yu acknowledged that the task may not be easy, she is optimistic about the impact the group will make.

“We hope that the government will be responsive. I definitely think that, because we are youth and we are from North America, it’s a unique opportunity to speak to them and make some changes,” she said.

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