When Leslie Young first immigrated to Los Angeles in 1985 from his native Taiwan, he was a slight, quiet seventh grader who spoke no English. Despite being constantly taunted and bullied at school, he managed to master his new language and excel academically.
He graduated at the top of his class in biology at UCLA and went on to earn a medical degree from UC Irvine.
Today, he is a pediatrician with a busy practice at Kaiser Permanente’s Signal Hill Medical Office. He was recently appointed to the LBUSD School Bond Citizens' Oversight Committee to represent parents.
“I wanted to join the committee to learn more about the school bond program and how it can help improve the instructional environment in our schools,” said Dr. Young, whose son, Scott, is a sixth grader at Rogers Middle School.
After serving as an active member of the PTA at Fremont Elementary while Scott was a student there, Dr. Young now has a new mission to help students districtwide. He used his own funds to purchase nearly 2,000 copies of the New York Times bestselling book, Wonder, with the intention of donating a class set to each fifth grade room in the school district.
Still slight (he stands 5’ 4”) but no longer quiet, Dr. Young frequently counsels his young patients on how to deal with bullies—and advises parents too.
“Last year, I discovered this amazing book, Wonder, about a fifth grade boy whose facial disfigurement drew ridicule and taunts from other children,” he said. “I was so moved by the message of kindness in the book, I demanded Scott read it, and he shared it with his teacher and classmates at school. The reception was outstanding and that’s why I decided that this book needs to be shared districtwide.”
While he acknowledges that a problem such as bullying cannot be solved simply by reading a book, he said he hopes it will be a first step to sparking discussion and begin a process of changing the school culture so “no one has to resort to violence to have his or her voice heard.”
In his medical practice, Dr. Young said he works closely with parents to determine the best approach for each individual child, especially when the concern is linked to a learning disorder such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Aside from his work duties, Dr. Young is active in the Rotary Club of Signal Hill, and he has published two books on pediatrics. He is also working on a book of historical fiction and enjoys taking photos and kayaking with his son. Next summer, he is planning a medical mission to a remote, underserved Tibetan village.