Joshua Apparicio is an articulate and ambitious 9 year-old. He’s a boy on a mission. He works hard, plays by the rules, excels academically and even makes the rounds as a public speaker.
Recognized as a rising leader, Joshua was recently invited to attend a youth leadership conference in Washington DC. There’s just one problem: He doesn’t have the money. Not content to rely solely on the usual methods like bake sales or car washes, Joshua took his fundraising campaign straight to the people.
Dressed in his Sunday best, Joshua made a public plea for support to fund his trip to Washington in May 2015, like a young Barack Obama.
“I am here to ask for sponsorship as an investment in my future,” he told Mayor James Butts and the Inglewood City Council Tuesday night. My mom is unable to pay for this trip because she lost her job. Thank you for your kind consideration in advance,” he said.
Currently in the 5th grade at Cowan Avenue Elementary Magnet School in Westchester, Joshua’s winning speeches and poetry are aimed at encouraging his generation to dream big.
"I think encouraging students now at such a young age is a perfect time,” he wrote in a letter. Joshua added that he believes the trip to Washington will encourage him to “start thinking outside the box and prepare me for my leadership role for my future.”
So the countdown begins. Joshua needs to raise $4,840. Inglewood Today will be among the first to give a donation.
More young people are coming to the podium at council meetings, to express their views, ask questions and share information with the public. From elementary school-aged children to those in college, the youth of Inglewood are making all of us proud, daring to step up when so many older people shy away from saying anything at all.
They are practicing their democratic right to free speech. These are the future leaders who will one day run American cities. What an honor for adults to say we helped support them!
Joshua’s coming up to the podium says a lot about his level of confidence and belief in himself. It also says something about Inglewood. It tells me that there is an atmosphere of acceptance in City Hall, that anyone can approach the dais, regardless of age, and be taken seriously. Council members assured the young man that he had their support.
To Joshua and any other young person with a dream, I encourage you to keep showing up, keep sharing your vision, and speaking your mind. This is how leaders are born, and how the world is made better, one voice at a time.