“I’m usually the quiet one that doesn’t like talking that much.” said Juan, 9th grade, Youth & Government Berkeley Delegate. But if you saw Juan at a Y&G conference, you would see a different side of him, a confident young man engaging with his peers over politics.
Youth & Government is a hands-on learning experience that builds vital leadership and social skills in today’s middle and high school teens. Through a simulation learning process, participants play key positions in world politics and state government.
Thanks to a generous donation, the YMCA-PG&E Teen Center is able to offer financial assistance to teens interested in the program who may not be able to afford the opportunity. Michael Nakada, Delegation Specialist, oversees the team of new delegates as the advisor for the recipients. He recalls that it was a challenging start for the team. Imagine being the new kid at a new school and your first period class is Government. “I thought my first meeting wasn’t going to be that good since I knew nobody. However, I was wrong. As I walked into the room where the meetings happen everyone was smiling and greeting me” Nitika, 9th grade, Y&G Berkeley Delegate.
“You may be out of your comfort zone for a bit, but if you put in the effort to socialize with others, people are really kind and uplifting” said Daniel, 10th grade, Y&G Berkeley Delegate. You get what you put in and Daniel’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Fellow delegates gave Daniel a shout out at the last conference in Fresno for networking with other delegations.
“This is a chance like no other,” wrote Moises, 10th grade, Y&G Berkeley Delegate. “It allows you to learn new concepts, meet new people and overall have a great time with a delegation that is supportive.”
Through Y&G, teens have the opportunity to enhance their skills in communication, decision making, critical thinking, and networking. All the while they are also learning: the meaning of professionalism, how to work as a team and how to build self-confidence and self-esteem. Y&G empowers teens and their voice. The new delegates add fresh ideas and points of views creating a more diverse, growing Berkeley Delegation.
Michael is hopeful that this will continue to open doors and grant access to others which will build a more diverse pool of delegates in the future. They are already making plans on how to fine tune the recruitment process for next year. But next on the agenda is a trip to the capitol. This month the delegates are suiting up and headed to Sacramento to join the rest of the California delegations for the 69th Model Legislature and Court. While in Sacramento the bills developed by delegations during the fall will be debated in committees, then on the floor of the Assembly and/or Senate and, if passed sent on to the Youth Governor.