Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month at the Y | Greater Green Bay YMCA Skip to main content
asian american heritage month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. The Greater Green Bay YMCA is celebrating the history of Asian Pacific Islanders within the YMCA by sharing moments and individuals that were instrumental in the shaping of the Y movement we all know today. We love honoring the different cultures that make our community special. Let's dive in and learn more about why this month is important and how you can join in on the fun.

Chinatown YMCA
Did you know that the first Chinese American YMCA was founded in San Francisco in 1911? The Y held lectures on health, education, classes in English and Mandarin and had a machine shop! To this day, the Chinatown YMCA plays a pivotal role in the community.

Duke Kahanamoku
Duke Kahanamoku was a gold medal Olympic swimmer who trained at the Central Y, setting world records for the 400 and 500 relay races in 1916. Following his Olympic career retirement, Kahanamoku traveled giving swimming exhibitions - it was during this time that he popularized the sport of surfing in the United States, which previously had only been known in Hawaii.

Fred Hoshiyama
Born in 1914, Fred Hoshiyama worked for the YMCA full time for 39 years - from 1941 through 1980 - except for his time in a government internment camp during WWII. While in this camp, Hoshiyama created YMCA-based programs to help address the social, educational, and recreational needs of the Japanese Americans held in the camp.

Hoshiyama was also the founder and national director of YMCA’s National Youth Program Using Mini-Bikes and helped to establish the National Association of Student YMCAs in the 1970s, revitalizing the YMCA student movement. Today, a scholarship in his name provides professional development for Y staff of Asian Pacific Islander heritage.

What's the Significance of Cherry Trees?
You might have seen those pretty pink trees around in springtime; they're called cherry trees, or "sakura" in Japan. These trees are special in Asian countries because they represent new beginnings, beauty, and how life is precious and short. In 1912, Japan gave the United States thousands of cherry trees as a gift to show friendship. Now, you can find these trees in many American cities, reminding us of the bond between our countries.

Sharing Cultures and Coming Together
Let’s talk about our Cherry Blossom Tree of Community. Think of it as a big symbol of togetherness! Just like each petal makes a cherry blossom tree look beautiful, every person in our community adds something special, too. When you put your own message or drawing on a flower petal and add it to our tree, you're celebrating AAPI heritage and showing that you're part of our community, too.

How You Can Join In
Want to be part of the fun? Visit us at the Green Bay YMCA and add your own flower to our Cherry Blossom Trees of Community! You can write a note, draw something cool, or share a thought - it's up to you! Let's celebrate the awesome AAPI community together.

Celebrate with Us!
Throughout May, we will be celebrating AAPI Heritage Month. From fun events to interesting activities, there's something for everyone. Let's celebrate the past, enjoy the present, and look forward to a future where we all understand and respect each other's cultures.

We can't wait to celebrate with you! See you at the Y!