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‘Care Fair’ in Chinatown promote self-defense and a rebounding neighborhood

Self defense training at the AAPI Care Fair in Columbus Park on May 15.
Photo by Dean Moses

Organizers combined safety education and fun family events to create an exciting day of activities in Chinatown during the first AAPI Care Fair on May 15.

Two young activists have spent the last several months striving to ease the minds of vulnerable members of the AAPI community during a sharp, steady rise in anti-Asian violence. By raising over $25,000 to donate self-defense devices such as pepper spray, Kenji Jones and Michelle Tran hoped residents would both feel safer and be safer amidst rising tensions thanks to the giveaways.

Using the feedback and appreciation they garnered from their social outreach, the pair helped arrange the AAPI Care Fair designed to promote safety and tolerance through one afternoon of joy and defense training.

Kenji Jones and Michelle Tran helped organized the AAPI Care Fair to uplift locals in Chinatown. Photo by Dean Moses

“It is meant to be a really positive and uplifting event. It has been a pretty rough time for everyone in New York City and for the AAPI community having to worry about safety, it has been a rough time,” Tran told amNewYork Metro. “This event is meant to be a happy day and a day where people feel like they are being supported by all different members of the community to make people feel heard and their concerns are being addressed, to let them know they are cared for.”

On Saturday during AAPI heritage month, the AAPI Care Fair was held from 10am to 12pm within Columbus Park on Mulberry and Baxter Streets, giving Chinatown a festival-like atmosphere for the first spring since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Passersby were drawn to the festive and educational event. Photo by Dean Moses

A collection of tented stalls stood peppered throughout the basketball court, each one offering a free service for visitors. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund spent the day registering attendees to vote while also offering guidance on immigration and housing rights.

The Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association served the public by conducting no cost health screenings to ensure the physical needs of locals are being met during the past year of quarantine.

Puppy therapy was a popular booth at the AAPI Care Fair. Photo by Dean Moses

In addition to bodily health, the mental well-being of Asian New Yorkers was also addressed. A booth aptly named puppy therapy allowed people of all ages to hold a dog on their lap and enjoy the kind of relaxation that only comes when interacting with man’s best friends.

Other mental health activities included instructors teaching self-defense courses and the dispersal of devices such as portable alarms.  But, above all, many were just happy to sit back, relax, enjoy live music, and socialize again.

The Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association provided free health screenings. Photo by Dean Moses

“The event did take a lot of work to put together, a lot of organizing, communication, and ironing out details we didn’t even know we would have to be concerned with, but most of us have stepped up to the plate and smoothed out all the kinks. We’ve done everything we can to make sure our mission of providing these essential services and items to vulnerable folks happened,” Jones said.

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