Although I have only been a part of Youth and Government for one year, it has already changed my perspective on what government is in so many ways.
Youth and Government is a program that allows California youth to learn skills necessary to become a leader. By being in the program, delegates or members learn the importance of the government, voting, and democracy. In the future these delegates can be more informed voters, advocates for social justice, and maybe even a part of the government themselves!
When I attended my first meeting at the South Pasadena and San Marino (SPASM) delegation, I was very intimidated by all the delegates who seemed to already know everything about the program. In the beginning, I mainly joined because most of my friends were in it as well. As the weeks went on, I continued to attend meetings and I became more and more comfortable with the delegation officers, advisors, and the program in general.
A part of Youth and Government that is unique to our delegation is Girls Of Spasm. Girls of Spasm is a group that meets every week, 30 minutes before the meeting to discuss current events that relate to female empowerment, equality, and gender issues. Over the years, the girls in our delegation have found that in general, boys speak out a lot more than girls do during meetings. This is concerning because girls should feel comfortable and confident enough to speak, because their ideas need to be heard! Girls of SPASM empowers the girls of the delegation in so many ways. Attending these weekly meetings has definitely given me the confidence to speak in front of the delegation and to voice my opinions and ideas to others. This is just another reason why I love Y&G!
Another favorite is Bill Hearing Night. Bill Hearing Night is an event hosted by our SPASM delegation where we deliver speeches on bills we have created and discussed within our bill groups. Public speaking has always been something I've struggled with, so giving this speech was scary for me. I spoke pro on a bill that would allow psychedelics to be used to treat addiction. After being judged on debatability, feasibility, and other factors that affect the appeal of the bill, my bill was chosen to move on to the statewide level in Model Legislature & Court (MLC) Senate and Assembly in Sacramento in February! When I heard this, I was so happy and felt really accomplished. This was the first time I really knew Youth and Government was for me.
At the first two conferences, Training and Elections I and II in Fresno, California, we are introduced to the program even more. All freshman who are new to the program are part of a group called Forum. In Forum, we are split up into groups based on our interests, I am in Health Care Reform. Health Care Reform is very important to me because I feel that affordable and accessible health care is a necessity for all people, especially immigrants and lower income families. Within these groups, we work together to form a bill relating to our topic. The bill we created will be presented by the Bill Sponsor, Legislative Analyst, and pro and con speakers in our group. This coming February, I will be attending my first Sacramento Conference (SAC). I am so excited and ready to see my fellow delegates speak passionately on the bills and ideas they worked so hard to create.
But unfortunately, not all kids are given the opportunity to participate in this amazing, life-changing program because of the price. 1/3 of the over 4,000 students in the program are able to do so with the help of Financial Aid. A friend in my delegation is able to be in Youth and Government because of Financial Aid. I have seen first hand just how much this program has changed her as a person, and it saddens me to think about all the delegates who aren't be able to experience the same thing. By donating to the Future Leaders Campaign you are helping kids all over the state take part in this amazing program.
So far, my experience in Youth and Government has been amazing and I hope you will think about giving a donation to make the program amazing for kids across the state. Hearing how Y&G has shaped the upperclassmen in the program gives me so much hope that it will do the same for me and many others. Through this program I have already gotten to know people from all over California and made friendships that will last a lifetime.