tv Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa NBC March 17, 2019 5:30am-6:01am PDT
♪ to "asian pacific america." and welcome i'm robert handa, your host for our show here on nbc bay area and cozi tv. we start today's show with a focus on the special olympics northern california. the organization has a big event coming up. we have organizers and an athlete here to talk about it. and then another worthy group with a worthy cause and its own special event coming up, friends of children with special needs is here to talk about a talent showcase. then "asian pacific america" goes on another eats expedition with a visit to roka akor and its executive chef in san francisco. and we wrap up by hearing from some asian-american artists who took part in the hearts in san francisco project, all on our show today. well, special olympics has done a good job in making itself known around the world for what it does for its special
athletes, but you might be surprised just how much it has grown and what it offers, especially here in northern california. with me now is stephanie ching, a special olympics northern california board member and a special olympics global messenger. also here is tyler krochmal, a senior communications manager for special olympics northern california. welcome to the show. stephanie ching: thank you. tyler krochmal: thank you for having us. robert: now again, as i said, you know, people think they know maybe a little bit more than they do. give us kind of an overview in terms of where we're at with special olympics now. tyler: yeah, so special olympics actually started in 1968, so we just celebrated our 50 year anniversary last year. started as a backyard camp for children, adults with intellectual disabilities. and there was a first games in chicago in 1968. now, more than 50 years later, we have over 5 million athletes around the world in 172 countries. games every two years, every four years, national games, world games. and then here locally, a lot of people don't know, they think the special olympics is the olympics that happens
every once every four years maybe in some far-off place. but we have competitions almost every weekend here in northern california, 14 different sports, 23,000 athletes just here in northern california alone, and over 300 competitions. robert: wow. and of course, stephanie is one of them, actually a very accomplished athlete as well. stephanie: yes. robert: you have the gold medals, what are those for, what events? stephanie: i do basketball, bocce ball, tennis, swimming, bowling, softball. robert: so, you're pretty much--and i think you told me you're getting ready to start training tomorrow? stephanie: i'm getting ready to swimming tomorrow over by glen high school. it starts at 6 in the evening to 7:30. it's one and a half hour. robert: wow, that's rigid training. what does it mean to be a global messenger? what do you want to do? stephanie: i'm a global messenger, it's like i'm public speaking. and i like to go to--i usually go to washington d.c. to talk
to legislators, to washington d.c. robert: very good. and you're also a role model for many athletes or aspiring athletes. do you feel that responsibility? what do you want to make sure people who are considering doing it, but haven't done it yet, what do you want them to think about? stephanie: i want them to think about it--i believe you can do your best, have encourage others. it's like have a good team player, be good, positive attitude, and show the good sportsmanship. and then show them how they can do--believe in yourself. give them a chance to try and you can do it. robert: yeah. there's so many positives. is it pretty always growing? do you have any kind of, like, still need to reach out? do you still have to get--overcome some reluctance by
people to participate? tyler: a little bit, and we're still trying to educate people, again, about special olympics and its--how involved it is within the community. we impact over 100,000 students in schools throughout northern california, so it's bridging that social gap between students in special education and students in general education. sometimes, they're just kind of separated. and through sports, we put them on the same team together. they get to know each other, especially when your children, just knowing and understanding someone, can lead to a lifetime of respect and understanding. robert: yeah. stephanie, how much did it benefit you? how did you change as a person by participating? stephanie: participating is free. it's year-round, it's a free-- robert: activity? stephanie: it is free to us, and you don't need to pay to participate in special olympics. robert: yeah, how about for you? did it change your personality? stephanie: actually, it helps me through all through school programs.
and that's how i usually started from golden gate elementary school when i was-- when i was seven years old. and special olympics is so much important to me. i made a lot of friends from special olympics. and being an athlete, encourage others and support other athletes too. robert: yeah, it's nice being on a team, huh? a team effort and things like that. i don't want to forget this fundraiser you have, or this--the plunge that's coming up. when people hear about it, what is it, and how can people-- tyler: yeah, so our polar plunge is on march 23, next saturday right at rio del mar beach in aptos. so, it's a really fun, family friendly event. we challenge people to raise money and then take the--take the chilly plunge into the pacific ocean, all in support of athletes like stephanie. robert: so stephanie, you'll be taking the plunge, right?
stephanie: yes. robert: hey, do me a favor? let me--let's show this. you've got a lot of awards that we could show, but tell us a little bit about this one and what it means. stephanie: this is called the espy award. this is my athletic achievement. and i am really proud of myself. and i can believe that i am a global messenger and health messenger and board of directors. robert: yeah, you're on the board of directors. what do you want to see happen with special olympics now in the future? what do you want to see happen? stephanie: i want to see happens--i want them to learn how to do it. and i believe they can do it themselves, but they want to--probably try--give the chance to try, and then believe in yourself. robert: yeah, yeah. and you've been participating in so long. stephanie: yes, for 28 years. robert: yeah, any chance that you're going to,
like you know, start going to the sidelines? or are you always going to be participating? stephanie: i always--i don't want to be in the sidelines, but-- robert: i get that feeling. stephanie: my biggest fear, i want to step up, and i want to speak, and i want to induce myself more. so, that's my biggest fear. robert: you know what? that is really, you know, something. yeah, you know, to participate is one thing. but for people like stephanie to step up and let people know what it's like, that really helps a lot, huh? tyler: yeah, absolutely. we found that sports and participating in special olympics gives so much confidence, and that sense of teamwork and motivation to step out, meet other people, and again give that sense of confidence that i can do it. and then that translates from the field or the pool to, i mean, speaking in front of people. she advocates in washington dc, has spoken in front of hundreds of people, which was--which would terrify a lot of people. robert: yeah. well, congratulations. stephanie: thank you. robert: hope you have a great event here. stephanie: yes, thank you. robert: in fact, the 2019 santa cruz polar plunge and
robert: friends of children with special needs is another group that has succeeded in making its presence known in a very public way, and again it sometimes means the public often thinks it knows more about the group than it really does. here to help us catch up and to talk about their upcoming talent showcase is vice president anna wang, and its executive business director, sylvia yeh. welcome to the show. anna wang: thank you, nice to be here. robert: give us a little overview. like i was saying before, a lot of people hear the name, they feel like they're familiar with it, might feel like they know more about it than they do. where are we at right now with the group? anna: well, friends of children with special needs
started 23 years ago with ten families. right now, we're serving over 1,000 families in the san francisco bay area. robert: wow, yeah. is it tough to keep up with the demand, or is it-- anna: it's very tough to keep up with the demand. i myself have a son with special needs, and he is currently 29 years old. when we first started the organization, he was only six. yeah-- robert: what would it have been like without that kind of support system? anna: we were devastated when we found out he was diagnosed with autism because i'm not an experienced mom, know how to raise a kid, leave alone a special needs kid. so, there was a lot of sadness and depression, and a lot of things that very challenging to find help for him. at that time, the children with autism is 1 out of 1500. right now currently, cdc releases 1 out of 59. robert: right.
with friends of children with special needs, what is maybe some of the needs that you fulfill? like what are some of the demands or the like--for example, she said she didn't really know, you know, what to do. sylvia yeh: i deal with most adult services. so, first of all, of course, after they graduate from high school, where do they go? yeah, and so we have adult services, adult day program, live-in service. you know, when the parents are gone, where do they live, what do they do? so, we provide live-in services. we have a lot of capable adults, they want jobs. so, we provide employment services as well. robert: oh really? sylvia: and also for families, you know, taking care of special needs sometimes need a break. so, we provide respite services. and also we have transportation services as well. robert: really? yeah, and that's interesting because there's always those certain nuances. people kind of think of like fulfilling the basic needs, but you know, some of the things that you were talking about, including just having some break time and things like that or something that an organization would think about. but is it tough to kind of fulfill all of that?
especially each family i would imagine has very complicated needs. sylvia: i think we do our best. and actually, the special needs really inspire us, you know, what to do more. you know, a lot of, you know, our staff think we're helping them, but by the end they are helping us to become a better person. robert: yeah. how about for your children? how have they benefitted, and what have you sort of learned by watching how they're dealing with it? anna: so, actually i'm one of the founding family. so, when my--yes. when my son was six years old, so they were children, we thought the best thing after getting together with other families to help them grow as a child, to help them with communication. and later on, we find out it's very important for us to discover and develop their abilities and talent. robert: right, yeah. i mean, we're going to talk a little bit about that talent showcase. what did you discover with your children? and also, how do you go about discovering that? anna: well, actually for asian-americans,
we are very shy about telling people that we have children with special needs. and i think actually it's to help the families face some of the challenges that we are able to help our children the best. so, we develop play groups to help them socialize. we develop after school program so that they can excel in some of the skills that they have. and now they--you know, the next thing is, of course, to develop adult program. and we were very fortunate to have sylvia help us do that. robert: yeah, and it's almost like a natural evolution, right? the longer you went, the more you kind of had to expand into that area. sylvia: yeah, we started with very--like adult day programs and live-in service with ten clients. now, we have grown to over 300 clients every day we're serving. and also we have our own coffee shop, friends coffee and tea that we are running that on-- robert: again, it seems like you guys really understand
the kind of the nuances and things like that. how important is it for the youngsters and even the families to be able to have a showcase where they can, you know, not just show that they can handle life, but that they have these special abilities and these special talents? sylvia: i think it's most important thing is you believe there's a future. you know, i mean, a lot of parents, and anna can correct me if i'm wrong, when you first got diagnosed and you feel like this is the end of the world. but like i say, you know, we actually see a lot of talents in them. they can be very-- if you provide opportunity, provide training, provide support. robert: yes. what would you like people who are thinking about coming to the event, or you would like them to come to the event, what do you want them to--why would you want--what would they benefit by coming? sylvia: just say they can shine. they really can shine like any one of us here. so many talents. look at stephanie, it's like wow. anna: i do believe that a lot of people, when they see people with disability or they only focus on the disability, and nobody looks at the ability.
and it's kind of an injustice. robert: yeah. what do you think people who come to the show will get out of it by seeing it? anna: they will be astonished because some of our talented winners, they actually are non-verbal. and they're very considered low functioning. but then when they are at their element, they shine in front of the audience, in front of the community. one of the winners of special needs talent actually went onto carnegie hall to win the elite international music competition. so, that is something that nobody expects. and we want to break that stereotyping of people with disabilities. robert: very good, very inspiring. thank you very much for being here. good luck with your event. both: thank you. robert: the special needs talent showcase is saturday, march 23 at 7 p.m. at the santa clara convention center theater. for tickets and more information, you can go to nbcbayarea.com. next up on the menu, "asian pacific america" goes on the road to profile a very unique san francisco
food is a very important part of any cultural discussion, at least that's what producers lance lew and joachim custodio told me when they said they wanted to profile the roka akor restaurant in san francisco, where executive chef roman petry rolls out contemporary robata japanese cuisine. take a look at what they found. ♪ male: the grill is sizzling at san francisco's roka akor, an innovative and contemporary restaurant combining japanese cuisine and stunning design. roman petry: it's a japanese inspired steakhouse. it's really a fun place to come and relax, have great steaks. we've got a beautiful japanese wagyu selection, domestic wagyus, great sushi, really good seafood. and just a fun, very lively restaurant. male: while roka akor has many offerings, the kobe wagyu beef is what they're really known for. roman: here at roka akor, we serve two different types of wagyu beef, so domestic wagyu, but we also really
specialize in japanese wagyu. and with that, you know, we have four different japanese wagyus. and on top of that, we're one of the only restaurants in the country that is certified for serving true, authentic kobe beef, which is the best of the best in japanese wagyu, and it's really fantastic. it's much more detail oriented. it's a lot richer in marbling, and it really is one of a kind. male: the robata grill is the center of attention, the perfect place to gather around and take in the ambiance of roka akor. roman: the robata grill is really different because we only use charcoal and we use wood. it's completely natural. there's no gas or anything to it. and it's a multi-tier system. so, we developed it to have, you know, charring, resting, cooking all in different temperatures, different zones. and with the marinades and sauces that we use, it really makes for a very unique way of eating. male: how does roka akor prepare their japanese kobe beef? chef roman petry takes us behind the counter. roman: what i want to showcase today is some of our
fantastic japanese wagyu. so, i've got two different kinds here. that's actually the takamori wagyu, which is drunken wagyu. it's fed with the leftover from a sake brewery and from a beer brewery. it's very unique, it's one of my favorites. and this is my absolute favorite, this is the authentic, certified japanese kobe beef. so, this is a beautiful kobe ribeye that we're going to be cooking up today. and actually, roka akor is one of the very few restaurants in the country who's certified to serve japanese kobe beef. and we're really excited about it, and we want to showcase that and share it with everybody. male: chef roman cuts the beef and seasons it with just a little bit of salt. the kobe beef also has a lot of natural flavor. ♪ roman: so, the robata grill gets about 1700 degrees, so it gives it a really nice char. you only want to char them both sides and really turn the temperature down to kind of get the richness and the fat inside
the beef to start moving and just get really custardy and really tender. male: after grilling, chef roman brings the beef to the second tier. while the steak continues to cook, chef roman grates some fresh wasabi root. ♪ male: a japanese magnolia leaf is warmed to add a bit of earthiness to the steak. green tea smoke is added to the dish to enhance the dining experience. kobe beef is best served at a rare to medium rare temperature. ♪ ♪
♪ male: with a diverse selection of delicious japanese cuisine, roka akor is a one-stop shop for foodies. robert: well, what can i say? they convinced me, a very worthwhile trip for us and other visitors. next up, the recent hearts in san francisco project event was just held. hear from some of the asian-american artists that took part. has been making folks feel right at home, with meals like homestyle country fried steak, grandma's sampler,
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benefit for the san francisco general hospital foundation. the project was debuted in 2004. it's a showcase where heart sculptures are created by bay area artists and put on display throughout san francisco for the public to enjoy. you may have seen them around as you went around town. then those sculptures are auctioned off, and it is a program that continues to grow every year. at the recent hearts in san francisco dinner and heart
sculpture auction, "asian pacific america" had a chance to talk to some of the artists themselves. and here they are. erin zhao: hearts in san francisco project is very special to me because at first when i moved to san francisco about ten years ago, it was a whole new environment, culture, and language 'cause i grew up in china. this piece is titled "mountain and waves." it's inspired by the natural environment around us, especially the california landscapes. so, i feel like we're so privileged to be--to live here and to be able to call this home. and we're so close to the water, the mountains, and we have beautiful parks in the city. lori chinn: this year, i--well, i did one seven years ago, and i did a small tabletop sized one. and i just graduated from art school, and doing the heart had actually inspired me to go to art college, so i thought it would be the perfect time to kind of pay, like, homage to, like, just home.
so, i named it "welcome home" because it's just everything about sf is bright and inviting, and that's why i love living here. and this is such a great cause for raising money for mental health awareness too, and just being able to help with that is always cool. taiko fujimura: when i was a child, i was looking at tree in front of school, at elementary school. and i thought leaves are dancing and growing, and comfortably located with each other. and i thought they are growing together. i feel so grateful that san francisco general hospital foundation sent me all the way this mini heart to japan because i was in japan to take care of my health. and i painted and i sent it back to san francisco. and everything worked out, and i feel so grateful.
robert: well, it's great that those artists get to showcase their talents, and the hospital foundation also benefits. and you can find out more about all of our guests and their events by going to nbcbayarea.com. we're also on social media, facebook and twitter. and you can follow me on twitter @rhandanbc. give us a shout and tell us what you think. "asian pacific america" will be back next week, so we will see you then. thanks for watching. ♪
. . >> darkest days. >> they flaunted their wealth to cheat the system. >> planes that are in the air will be grounded. >> i'm respecting for the next president. >> good morning. welcome to sunday today on this st. patrick's day, march 17th. i'm willie goois. overnight the death toll after friday's terrorist attack at two mosques in new zealand has risen to 50. this morning the man who bravely confronted the gunman at one mosque is speaking out as the country mourns the worst shooting in its history. we're live in