On November 19, the final event for the TOMODACHI Story Jam for Youth with Disabilities was held online. This is an eight-week digital storytelling and youth leadership program that brings together 10 Japanese and American college students and young professionals with disabilities to collectively explore experiences in the time of COVID-19. As part of their projects, participants joined weekly virtual sessions and learned about storytelling as a method and a medium to share their individual and collective experiences during the pandemic, amplify their voices, and empower a new generation of youth disability leaders.
After eight weeks of work on their individual video projects, the 10 participants from Japan and the United States showcased their videos during the final event. Om Prakash, Chief Executive of Northrop Grumman provided a video message to the participants. Anna Cunningham and Charles Adams served as both session speakers and representatives of Northrop Grumman’s employee resource group The VOICE. Shannon Dorsey, Cultural and Educational Attaché, U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, and Junko Tsuda, Executive Director of the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) also offered encouraging messages to the participants.