Dear Family, Friends, and Acquaintances,
Every February, I fly up to Sacramento to participate in California YMCA Youth & Government (Y&G). Y&G runs two youth leadership programs: Model Legislature and Court (MLC) for high school students and Model United Nations (MUN) for middle schoolers. MLC, which I am currently participating in, teaches teenagers California government and politics by holding a mock governmental session over a four-day conference, complete with a mock Supreme Court, Governor’s Office, and Legislature that makes use of the actual State Capital Congressional chambers. However, the description of Y&G doesn’t do it justice. Y&G is so much more to me than just a leadership program. I still remember one of my first Y&G experiences.
I was in sixth grade, attending Y&G's middle school Model United Nations conference for the first time. Before the conference, I had come in with the goal of completely re-inventing myself. You see, I, was a short, chubby, shy, straight-A student, with a squeaky voice. I wasn’t exactly winning popularity contests. I was shunned, picked on, and bullied. Coming into a completely new environment with 800+ other middle schoolers that were mostly strangers, I decided to try and act "cool". Safe to say, that’s not what happened. During one of the first sessions in the conference, we had a public speaking activity. We had to create a product, and pitch it to a room of some 200+ people. I decided to raise my hand to speak, not expecting to get called on. My heart beat faster as I was unexpectedly chosen. Panicking, I started rambling about a completely nonsensical food product, "cheese and chocolate". My pitch was ridiculous and embarrassing. I thought to myself "Oh my god, Isaiah, you made a complete fool of yourself again, now everyone's gonna realize you're some weirdo". I braced myself for the typical reaction of dirty looks and eye-rolls I usually receive from my peers. What came next shocked me. Instead of jeers, there was praise. They were not laughing at me, but with me. My wackiness instantly broke the ice. They applauded me for having the courage to speak, and I received words of encouragement as I sat back down. Those words meant a lot to me. For the first time ever, I found a place where I can be accepted and be myself. That weekend, I made friends from all over the state, from Los Angeles to San Francisco to my own hometown of San Diego, forging friendships that will last a lifetime.
Throughout my years in Y&G, I found the voice I so desperately desired, the acceptance amongst my peers I desperately seeked, and the confidence and purpose I so desperately needed. Y&G ignited my passion for current events and public service. I am currently a Southern California ranking member of my school's speech and debate team and had the privilege to serve last year the School Board Student Representative of Sweetwater Union High School District. None of this would have been possible without the sense of direction and confidence I found in Y&G. That's why this amazing program is so much more than a mock session of our state government, or a leadership program, or an extracurricular activity for a college application. Y&G is my second home.
But, without generous donations and fundraising, my family never would've been able to afford the tuition of this program, and Y&G never would've been able to transform my life the way it did. I'm not the only one, as thousands of teenagers across the state have only found their purpose and voice with the help of scholarships.
My experience is just an example of how Y&G has changed the course of my life. I am incredibly proud and blessed to be a member of such an incredible organization. This transformative experience has altered the life of many teenagers across California. It is for these reasons, I implore you to donate to such a worthy cause. In a time where the pressures of a teenager have increased drastically, Y&G has created an environment where a teenager’s talents can flourish and become the future leaders our country needs. Without the generous financial assistance of others, families such as my own wouldn’t be able to grant their children the opportunity to be part of such an amazing experience. Please help other students find their voice and themselves by donating to such an incredible organization. Your generous donation will aid a young student not only learn and engage in politics and government but find confidence and acceptance they may lack. Every cent helps change someone’s life. Thank you, in advance for your time and generosity.