I joined Youth and Government two years ago as a nervous, shy freshman in my first year of high school. While public-speaking was quite painful at first, through every informal debate (Is a hot dog a sandwich?) and formal discussion (How do we reform the prison system?), I began to understand the power of words and of having personal beliefs. Within my delegation and Y&G, I learned to more effectively communicate with others and made lasting friendships with upperclassmen in my delegation.
Sophomore year was the year I came to understand my value in the world and in the program. During that year, I participated on the Supreme Court and had the opportunity to argue in the same chambers as our own California Supreme Court. The elation I felt as I argued my case to the row of justices was and is indescribable. Mental-health wise, sophomore year was draining, but the friends I made and the promise of the future, of a future that I could bring change to, quite literally saved my life.
This year, I am once again excited to join the Supreme Court as an attorney and serve as my delegation's president. I also had the honor of running for a state-wide position, Chief Justice, where I met delegates from all across the state. Campaigning was a dream come true -and although I lost- without Youth and Government, I would never have considered taking the risk.
Youth and Government, these past three years have taught me, is all about seeking discomfort. This program that I love is about taking risks and embracing the uncomfortable. It means bringing change to your community and your school. It means not being the complacent generation. It means living each day with the intention of making the world a better place.
As cliche as it may sound, I would not be the same person I am today if it were not for Youth and Government. Y&G provided the support I so desperately needed in my lowest moments, and the joy I embraced in my happiest memories.
However, there are so many youth in California who are unable to afford this life-altering program that features the nation's best civic engagement education. For more than 70 years, students have called on family members, friends, and members of the community to make a difference and help youth who are unable to afford the full cost of the program.
Through your donation, you can help us empower the next generation of change-makers, neighbors, politicians, business owners, workers, educators, and judges. We need your help as together we can achieve so much more. Please join me and give today to make a difference.