In the space avaiable discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which you have been most involved.
Considering that I was hesitant about joining and wanted to quit several times during my freshmen year, the YMCA Youth in Government program has had a huge impact on my life, and is the most influential extracurricular activity I have ever participated in. Not only has it given me a job, a chance to run the State Capitol for the weekend, and connections with Supreme Court justices and legislators, it has also given me pride: pride for myself, my city, my state, and my country. It has given me confidence: confidence that I do have an opinion and my opinion does count for something. Youth in Government has given me the ability to profoundly express my thoughts: the ability to articulate my thoughts and use my communication skills to make a difference. Youth in Government has enhanced my understanding of the democratic process like no civics class ever could. Not only do I understand finer details such as how bills are routed, I now comprehend all of the nuances that go along with moving a bill through the legislative process. I know how to put someone on trial, how to impeach a governor, how to fast-track bills on the docket – perhaps the only legislative tool we have not used in Youth in Government is the filibuster. The program has allowed me to truly appreciate that I live in the democracy that I do, and that not every teenager in the world gets to stage mock legislative sessions in the real State Capitol. I have given countless presentations about Youth in Government and spoken to YMCA donors about the program, but I never tire of sharing my enthusiasm about the program. It has given me so many tools, and has given me the ability to see the world as more than just “us versus them”. I truly believe in what Youth in Government is trying to achieve: that youth need to be more involved in the governmental process and have a true appreciation of what it means to be a democracy. All of the elected officials often forget, I believe, that even though minors do not vote for them, we are still a part of whom they represent, and they must consider us when they make decisions and not just their electorate who can vote. When we use the State Capitol every spring to hold our Model Government session, tour groups often mistake us for the real government. The teenagers involved in Youth in Government challenge the stereotypes of adolescents: we do understand modern-day issues, and we do care about what is going on in the world. We are the future, and we’re going to make sure that the forecast for our country and the world is bright.