My commitment to the Philadelphia Suns is powered by my relationships with those in the organization. Harry Leong, the patriarch of the Suns, first drew me in when he said, "Sure, as long as you can get enough girls to come." His conditional agreement to my desire to start a ladies' basketball team sparked what would become 10 years of his mentorship and my leadership. By handing me the freedom to create, Harry empowered me to make things happen.
The Suns aims to: teach personal responsibility; instill values of teamwork, commitment and integrity; and provide a safe place to try, fail and try again. The organization is now in it's 40th year and serves more than 500 youth and young adults annually. Through a powerful combination of community-building and goal-setting from a committed volunteer network, the Suns have been able to foster a home for the Asian American youth of Philadelphia to grow into passionate individuals and future leaders.
I didn't discover the Suns until late high school when I reconnected with my Chinatown neighborhood. What I found in the Suns was an organized avenue for Asian American youth to partake in sports. Such an organization is significant, especially in the tough urban public school system of Philadelphia -- Asian boys often discount themselves from their high school tryouts and Asian girls sideline themselves as spectators. Unsure of their athletic adequacy, they simply choose not to play.
Using the natural attraction of sports and friendship, the Suns provide under-served youth the opportunities to gain the confidence that can only be obtained from challenging themselves both physically and mentally. Once invested in the sports programs, our members come together to build a community they can call their own. They deepen their involvement with the Suns through service opportunities, cultural activities like traditional Chinese lion dances and frequent social events that take them out of their comfort zones and expand their circles. Harry has been the glue in all this and the inspiration for my dedication to the Suns.
After graduating from University of Pennsylvania and working in advertising, I've realized ways to use my knowledge to help further strengthen and expand the Suns. From within, I oversee internal communication, continue to captain the Lady Suns program and organize team-building events to maintain the close-knit dynamic even as we grow larger every year. Outwardly, I am leading the efforts to invigorate the Suns' digital and social media presence to keep our members, alumni and supporters engaged and involved as agents of change in the AAPI community.
I am honored to receive this Champion of Change recognition and want to share this with the rest of the Philadelphia Suns leaders, who are shining examples of the way community athletics can guide young lives in directions that trigger social change.
Rebecca Chin has been a member, leader, and creative talent within the Philadelphia Suns, a volunteer-led, youth organization, which focuses on community building by offering educational, cultural, social, athletic, and service opportunities for Asian American youth, since high school.
Check out the The Philadelphia Suns' "What's Your Story" video submission: