Youth Ambassador Hasan Ko from Vermont

Who is Hasan 

Hasan is a leader and advocate for disability rights in Vermont and across the United States. He is a board member of Champlain Community Services (CCS) and the President of their self-advocacy group “Champlain Voices.” He leads Green Mountain Self-Advocates’ work on including people with disabilities from diverse backgrounds. Hasan is also a Youth Ambassador Trainer for the Center on Youth Voice, Youth Choice (CYVYC). He was previously a Youth Ambassador for CYVYC. For fun, Hasan likes to run, play frisbee, and play video games.

Hasan is from Burma. He moved to the United States when he was 13 years old. Read more about Hasan.

The Influence of Hasan's Culture on Guardianship

In Burmese culture, there is no word or label for disability. Also, guardianship does not exist in Burma. After attending school in Vermont for a couple of years, Hasan’s teachers told him that he had a disability. Then, they immediately told him he needed a guardian. Even though the teachers pressured Hasan, he pushed back. Hasan told them he does not need a guardian because in his culture they do not believe in guardianship. Hasan’s family also advocated for him and helped educate his teacher. Everything they do, they decide as a family. Hasan’s culture is an important part of his life and influences how he and his family make decisions. 

Using Supported Decison Making

Hasan makes his own decisions but will go to his family, friends, and support agency if he wants advice or needs help. He reminds himself and encourages others to “think before you act,” because “that is the start of a plan, and it is important to have a plan for everything you do.”   

Hasan did not learn about self-advocacy groups and alternatives to guardianship until he graduated from high school. Hasan wants to help other young people learn about self-advocacy groups and alternatives to guardianship earlier than he did.  

Learning about supported decision making and alternatives to guardianship has influenced Hasan to be a leader. As a leader, Hasan explains to others that “it is best for everyone to have their own control over their life.” Hasan’s goal is to help others with disabilities to access more opportunities and gain more experiences.

Hasan’s Insights

Hasan would rather learn from real-life experiences than sit in a classroom. He wants to listen to people and get to know them personally. He wants to use what he is learning from others in his day-to-day life. This is important to him because in school, they tried to do everything for him without asking him, even if he spoke up for himself. Hasan was labeled as “rebelling.” Later he learned that he was self-advocating.  

In Hasan’s culture, everything is family first. This is one reason why he advocates for supported decision-making and alternatives to guardianship by connecting with other people.  

Hasan’s advice to others is that you can make decisions for yourself with help. Follow your own heart and trust your instincts. 

Hasan was labeled as “rebelling.” Later he learned that he was self-advocating.  

Hasan and a colleague are wearing purple agency shirts. His colleague is wearing a black vest over her shirt and is a white female with shoulder length light brown hair. Hasan is an Asian male with short black hair. Both of them are standing behind a table with a hand painted tablecloth that reads 'BELONG.' He is interacting with a male attendee who is on the opposite side of the table. The attendee is wearing a red hat, a white shirt, and blue jeans.

Hasan and a colleague are helping out at a Green Mountain Self-Advocates booth during an outdoor event.