Youth Development at the Y does not stop at growing character, physical fitness and career readiness. Through its Youth & Government program, the Y invests in helping youth become active and caring citizens.
In programs around the country, high school students have a chance to learn the legislative process through a hands-on experience that culminates in a weekend of writing, collaborating, advocating, voting and passing mock legislation. Brittany Joseph of the YMCA’s Youth & Family Service branch leads the YMCA’s signature Youth & Government Club at Einstein High School in Montgomery County. Encouraging high school students to tame argument into fruitful discussion and spur of the moment inspiration into thoughtful legislative material is all a part of her Youth & Government leader position. Confidence is nurtured and grown through experiences in the club. Youth & Government participants take risks to advocate for ideas before their high school peers. “At first the veterans pretty much dominated the group,” says Ms. Joseph, “but after the bill writing experience, even the freshmen have the confidence to speak up and defend their positions. Now they are crafting their own bills.”
Recently, the group of over twenty Einstein students nominated members to serve in leadership positions at the upcoming Legislative Weekend. These students will play important roles in steering proposed legislation through the committees and on to the floor to be considered by the delegates. “The whole group recognized what a huge role these students will play and everyone came together and supported them. It was a great moment for the group,” Ms. Joseph says. For this group of students the weekend will be a chance to practice parliamentary procedure, use their speaking skills, and just maybe identify real solutions to challenges in their community.