“For 71 years, California YMCA Youth & Government has provided over 100,000 middle and high school youth throughout California the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of issues affecting our state, nation and world. Youth & Government programs are a platform for service learning, social responsibility and personal development. Participants develop critical thinking and public speaking skills that allow them to articulate and act upon their beliefs.”
This excerpt from the California YMCA Youth & Government website (calymca.org) provides a basic overview of the Youth & Government program. However, it does not do justice to the incredible impact this program has on the lives of so many youth, including myself, in our state.
Youth & Government has changed my life. Although people throw around this phrase lightly, I genuinely believe that I would not be the person I am today without Youth & Government. I joined this program as a high school freshman. Since then, this program has taught me so much about state politics, the legislative process, and the political issues our world faces. More importantly, this program has taught me that I have a voice and has given me opportunities to express my opinions. After all, political opinions themselves are useless unless you have the confidence and means to express them.
In addition to empowering me to use my voice, Youth & Government has helped me develop confidence with public speaking and leadership. During my first year in the program, I served as a Committee Chair. Although the concept of being in charge of a group of freshmen may sound intimidating, I loved the experience and learned so much from it! Last year, as a sophomore, I ran for Secretary of the Senate. I gave a speech in front of the Legislative Houses program area (about 600 people!) and was elected! Not only did I develop confidence with my public speaking abilities from this experience, but I also had opportunities to resolve issues and lead sessions just like real politicians would. This year, after an unsuccessful run for Youth Governor, I decided to participate in the Issues and Activism program area. This program area mimics the political party system in actual politics. Through this program area, I have been able to run political campaigns and attempt to resolve real-world issues, such as the polarization of political parties. Since my political party has both conservative and liberal members, it has been a fulfilling challenge to find our uniting factors, instead of letting our political differences divide us. This experience especially has taught me to Be The Change I wish to see in the world. I truly believe that the youth in this program have the skills and potential to change the world.
Although all delegates in Youth & Government have the ability to change the world, not all high schoolers have the ability to join Youth & Government. Because of the incredible experiences this program provides, it is fairly expensive. The Future Leaders Campaign raises money to provide scholarships in order to make the program more accessible. I joined the Future Leaders Campaign because I am so passionate about Youth & Government and want to help others experience it. I believe that everyone deserves to experience this incredible program, regardless of their financial status. Please donate to help youth Be The Change!
My Personal Web Log
I have reached my fundraising goal of $1,000! Once again, thank you to everyone who has donated. You are truly helping support tomorrow's leaders. Thank you!
by Emily Bengston on Tue, Feb 12, 2019 @ 8:17 PM
So Close to Reaching Goal
I am beyond excited to announce that I am less than $100 away from reaching my personal fundraising goal of $1,000! Thank you to all of the generous people who have donated so far. Your donations are helping empower California's youth, so they can be the leaders of the future. Thank you!
by Emily Bengston on Mon, Feb 11, 2019 @ 2:24 PM
Over Halfway to Goal!
I am very excited to announce that I am over halfway to fundraising my goal of $1,000! Thank you to all of those who have donated!
by Emily Bengston on Sat, Feb 09, 2019 @ 12:03 AM