Each spring, over 300 Y leaders from around the country travel to Washington for the National Advocacy days, a three-day event focused on communicating to Congress the need to support bi-partisan public policies that advance the Y’s cause and strengthen communities.
This year, we were joined by 39 high school advocates from Y Youth & Government programs from Maryland and around the country. These students joined us as we met with members of Congress and their staff, not just observing but actively participating in the conversations across a variety of complex issues. The students researched their districts and the issues, presented articulate and compelling arguments and adapted their strategies from day to day, and meeting to meeting.
Y Youth Advocates were convincing and eloquent on behalf of Y youth development programs, Medicare funding for Diabetes Prevention Programs, mentoring and more. They incorporated personal stories of how the pending legislation touched their lives in very compelling ways. With the opportunity to hone skills, develop critical thinking, gain life-long relationships, consider career paths and pursue dreams, it was an experience of a lifetime.
Needless to say, we were not only proud of the way our Youth Advocates represented themselves and our Youth and Government program, but also encouraged by what they represented for the future of our democracy. These young people came from a wide cross-section of the country and with disparate political views, but they demonstrated the ability to work together in a highly effective manner (imagine that?!).
So, if you’ve found yourself scratching your head and more than a little frustrated with the highly partisan environment in our nation’s Capitol, then perhaps you can feel a little better knowing there is a group of young people who are preparing themselves to be effective leaders in the future.
All the best,
John K. Hoey
President & CEO
The Y in Central Maryland