Building values-based leadership and civic engagement in California’s youth is important to me. That is why I am proud to volunteer for California YMCA Youth & Government.
California YMCA Youth & Government has provided outstanding statewide educational and social experiences close to 100,000 middle and high school youth for more than 70 years.
California YMCA Model Legislature and Court is a program area consisting of 3,500+ high school delegates from across California to learn about the innerworkings of state government. Delegates are able to act as legislators, lobbyists, political party members, Supreme Court justices, and more. Additionally, delegates have the opportunity to run and apply for leadership positions including Youth Governor, Speaker of the Assembly, Governor's Cabinet, and more.
I have been a part of Youth and Government since 7th grade, making this my 5th year in the program. I went into the program with a 4 person delegation, 1 of whom is my best friend to this day. I knew absolutely nothing about political or social issues. My mom just encouraged me to join because I needed to improve my public speaking skills. So I agreed, not knowing what to expect.
The feeling I got as I left my first conference was this sense of empowerment and invincibility. I started to become more aware of the issues that really mattered. More importantly, I realized that the most vital tool we posess is our voice.
Youth and Government has given me the opportunity to speak in front of crowds, debate, and network with passionate young individuals. It has also taught me the importance of democracy and voting. In a time where politics has become increasingly polarized, being in a place like Youth and Government has given me a platform to speak freely on topics I care most about while also understanding other individuals' points of views. Being in this program has made me understand the importance of civic engagement and acting on injustices. Upon joining Youth and Government, I have become an active member in my community, becoming President of my delegation and leads of various student activist organizations, such as March for Our Lives.
Introverted 13 year old me would've never expected that I would be able to talk so openly and confidently about political and worldly events with people I barely know. This program has given me the skills I would've never gotten from a traditional classroom environment. I have gotten the chance to be a bill sponsor on foster care and voter registration, act as a member of a political party, and co-chair of a freshman committee on higher education.
However, there are many students who are left out of this unique experience because of the cost. No student should ever be unable to engage in educational and civically-engaged programs like Youth and Government simply because he/she can't afford it. Please help me in raising money for delegates so that they can seize the many opportunities this program has to offer.
Together we can achieve so much more. Every gift makes a difference. Everyone has a role to play. Please join me and give today.