The YMCA Youth and Government program has had more of an impact on who I am than any other activity that I have ever participated in.
Y&G is many things, but in essence, it is a model government, formed by over 3,000 high school students from all across the state of California. Every year, we attend two three-day conferences in Fresno, and the program culminates in a six-day conference in Sacramento. During this time, students (or "delegates" as we like to call them) form a model California state government, as well as using the real Capitol and Court buildings to facilitate debate about a host of different issues. Not only is the program educational, it is also incredibly fun and empowering.
I'm the kind of person that quits most things that I'm not good at right away. This has been one of the few exceptions, despite focusing on things that I was terrible at when I started. But I love it, because it challenges as opposed to judging and criticizing. While the focus is mainly focused on public speaking, there are so many more important skills and values that you learn just by participating, like communication, the importance of speaking your mind and the ability to come up with solutions instead of just complaining. Just being in this program makes you so much more aware of the world around you, and inspires you to play an active role in changing it. It allows you to reach for goals that might have at one time seemed impossible to achieve.
Almost anyone who's done this program - from a first-year freshman to a seventh-year senior, - will most likely tell you that it has been a life-changing experience, and one that everyone should have the chance to partake in. Unfortunately, this isn't the currently the case. While the YMCA provides financial aid to hundreds of students every year, there are still many that can't afford to participate. Between lodging, transportation, food, and the convention center itself, the total cost for each person per year is usually well over $1000.
Nearly a third of delegates receive some already form of financial aid. If you were to donate to the campaign, you would not only be enhancing their experience but also giving opportunities to those that the YMCA hasn't been able to help. Y&G is so much more than a model government. it is a place full of people who are passionate about changing the world for the better. It's also a place that teaches invaluable public speaking abilities, social skills, and civic engagement without the delegates even realizing they're learning. It is also no secret that students who participate in Y&G are much more likely to get into college and become model citizens. Through your donation, you could truly help change a person's life for the better, as the program has changed mine.
Together we can achieve so much more. Every gift makes a difference. Everyone has a role to play. Please join me and give today.