To many students, the start of school can mean the start of stress – over schoolwork, tests, and for most seniors, the daunting prospect of college apps. But there’s a silver lining for about 120 high schoolers: Youth & Government begins a new season every August.
The program, which is run through the Crescenta-Canada YMCA (CCY), is essentially a mock state legislature. Triannual conferences see about 2,400 delegates from across California convene in Fresno and Sacramento in order to debate bill ideas, advocate for important social causes, and vote for their representatives. If a bill makes it through the youth government, it’s presented to the California governor himself and then has the potential to become law.
Nevertheless, Y&G certainly isn’t limited to politics. Many delegates have created lifelong friendships through the program, not only with those in their delegation but also with delegates in different parts of the state.
As the CCY delegation president Daniela Velasquez (12) put it, “I’ve met some of my closest friends in Youth & Gov…we are a family where everyone is safe to speak their opinions and receive support. I have grown in my [public] speaking skills, learned to debate, and learned what it means to be a friend and a leader.”
Getting involved in your local branch – most LCHS students attend CCY – is as easy as signing up and attending a weekly Wednesday evening meeting (the location is posted on @official.ccy on Instagram). If you don’t know any classmates in the program, feel free to reach out to members of the officer team. Ava Navarro (12), Audrey Melillo (11), and Anna Linnik (12) would be happy to point you in the right direction.
If you’re unsure about joining, take it from me – someone who couldn’t speak in front of a group of 20 without my voice shaking and my hands trembling so hard I could barely hold a mic. I became a statewide Legislative Committee Chair that same year, and not only has my passion for politics and confidence in myself grown, I’ve met two of my best friends through the program. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of government to join. All you need is an open mind and an open schedule on Wednesday evenings.