Where We Started
As the founder of I-CREATE YOUTH, I started with two ideas—storytelling and vision. Born with a visual impairment, I've always felt like an outsider looking in, just that I couldn't really look at anything. I had, and still have, supportive friends and loved ones who helped me with seeing menus, whiteboards, or phone screens, but as a reserved kid who'd rather keep quiet, I didn't exactly advocate for my needs. As I've grown older, I've had more opportunities to become a self-advocate, mainly through writing: first, with essays and letters to myself, then through poetry which I've shared with others.
In June 2020, I decided to make my activism a collective one, leading to the creation of I-CREATE YOUTH. I wanted to meet fellow disabled students, share their stories, and raise awareness for our unique but shared experiences. I-CREATE YOUTH became a nonprofit dedicated to spreading creative writing education, opportunities, and resources to the visually impaired and disabled community. We've mostly focused on K-12 students, but everyone is welcomed to contribute to this mosaic of disabled creatives.
I-CREATE YOUTH empowers, educates, and connects disabled youth through language in its various forms.
Where We Are Now
Creative writing is a tool to express ourselves, to find fragments of our identities, and to empower others. ICY wanted to make this more accessible to disabled students by tailoring curriculum, resources, and writing opportunities to their needs. But recently, I've been examining ICY's vision and wanted to expand ICY's vision to accommodate the diverse bodies language can occupy—not just in creative writing, but programming languages, math as a language, and foreign languages.
As such, we've restructured our mission in late 2021 to include the arts, STEM, technology, and the world. I hope I-CREATE YOUTH will be a love language for disabled students, and a vessel to give back to the disabled community for those who support disability activism.
— Jessica Kim, Founder and Executive Director