Exceptional young adults honored at Justice and Witness awards ceremony

Exceptional young adults honored at Justice and Witness awards ceremony

June 27, 2013
Written by Barb Powell

Last summer, Mia Yager, then a student at Fairview High School, Boulder, Colo., brought down the house at the UCC National Youth Event (NYE) with a message of inclusion and acceptance.

This fall, Yager will begin attending the College of Charleston.

And Yager lives with Down Syndrome.

Yager, a member of First Congregational Church in Boulder, was honored this evening with the 2013 Youth and Young Adult Award from the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM). The award is presented to a young adult with a passion for justice who stands out among his or her peers.

“She stole our hearts [at the National Youth Event] as she shared her story about the very typical and oppressive subject, bullying, and her encounter with it,” said Alice Harper-Jones, Chair of the Justice and Witness Ministries Board of Directors in introducing Yager.

The awards program described Yager’s “message of love and community and anti-bullying,” as “powerful and transformative.” Since NYE, she has repeated her message of inclusion and hope numerous times at meetings and conferences.

“I am different because I have a disability,” Yager said. “There are a lot of people like me. However, there are a lot of people that do not have a disability but are being bullied as well. Being bullied is an injustice.”

Yager is quick to thank her church for creating a welcoming community for her and others. “Being part of church has given me a community to laugh with.”

“I am lucky,” she says. “I am accepted as I am. As a person.”

Also honored as a Youth and Young Adult Award winner was Jonathan Victorio, a member of Eden UCC, Hayward, Calif. 

Victorio has served as a cultural broker and educator among Protestants, Catholics and Jews in establishing a local interfaith food bank. He also participated in the 2012 Cherryland Youth Initiative (ChYLI).

“He is everything that justice leaders dream about when speaking of the future of this country,” said DeSorrow Golden, Vice-Chair of the JWM Board.



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