We are excited to announce the appointment of ARC Youth Advocate Ezekiel Nishiyama as a Youth Commissioner to the LA County Youth Commission. This Commission seeks to help child welfare & juvenile justice systems center youth voices in their efforts to co-design & improve policies, programs, & services. We applaud the appointment of youth with lived experience to lead this county effort.
Inspired by his lived experience in the juvenile justice system, Ezekiel advocates daily to re-imagine the systems he was once in. Read more about Ezekiel below.
“At 15 yrs I found myself on the wrong path in life, making negative choices. Because of it, I faced being tried as an adult in the juvenile system. After serving 4 yrss in CA’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) I began volunteering & advocating w/ ARC. Throughout my re-entry journey & while being an advocate for my community & peers, I found myself as a full time youth advocate w/ ARC doing local juvenile justice work.
Coming home as a young adult I didn’t know exactly what to expect. It had been over 4 years since I was free. I wouldn’t be returning to the same schools I had attended because my teenage days were over. I grew up incarcerated in a system where many of us are trapped in a cycle & it’s hard to make it out.
I became involved with ARC fairly quickly upon my re-entry. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to create change. I knew I wanted to make sure young people would never have to experience the same systems I went through & that’s when I found my voice.
Through advocacy & community organizing, I had the opportunity to use my voice to help change laws & lives of those impacted by our system. I was able to see how my voice & experiences could shape the way we work w/ our youth.
I believe that no young person should be defined by their worst mistake. No young person is born bad. All young people make mistakes & that is why we collectively need to support their growth. We need to be role models for our young people who are going to be the next generation, so how do we support & offer our young people the tools they need?”