Y Teens Meet Elected Officials in Albany
Throughout the year, Y teens across the city have been actively engaging and participating in activities to help educate and mobilize the next generation of voters and civic leaders. Last month, teens from the Castle Hill YMCA in the Bronx headed to Albany to put those ideas into action during the Alliance of New York State YMCA’s Advocacy Day.
At this annual event, select Y students advocate for programs and services that support their communities, asking for additional funding for after school, ESL classes, free legal services, and more.
This year our Y teens highlighted the great things the Castle Hill YMCA is doing, the opening of two new Y branches in the Bronx, and the 2020 Census. The group had the opportunity to engage with representatives of their communities and practice their service-learning skills.
The teens were in awe of the experience, and had this to say about the day:
“Advocacy Day is one of my favorite experiences with the Y thus far. This opportunity encourages deeper reflection on how the programs of the YMCA changed me as an individual. Sharing my story alongside my younger sister and friend was very intense. We had an outstanding conversation with Senator Jamaal T. Bailey about how powerful it is to be true to you no matter what. I walked out of Senator Bailey’s office feeling empowered. A quote I will always remember by him is ‘Don’t try to be the first anybody, be the first you.’ His words inspired me to own that I am a role model, and it gave me a sense of relief that I will become the individual I strive to be if I remain focused. As we were nervously walking into the legislative building, I kept in mind that we are not there to represent only ourselves, but we are there to represent our families and all the YMCAs in New York City. I am proud of this experience, and I highly encourage teens to take this trip to own the power of their voice.”
— Aisseta Dembele
“This experience inspired me to be more passionate about what I believe in. Speaking with the government officials sparked the idea of how changes can be made by anyone willing to speak up and unite with a team. I was extremely nervous, but I recommend this trip because I realize it’s okay to live outside of my comfort zone.”
— Ninochca Ramos
“This was a remarkable day for me; the YMCA gave me a mindset of challenging my limits, rather than limiting my challenges. Engaging with speakers and advocating on behalf of the YMCA made me realize how much of an impact this program has had on me. The highlight of my day is the time spent with Senator Jamaal T. Bailey because I felt the most empowered. The conversation we shared motivates me to continue to make a change. I recommend this trip to all of my peers because this day was an honor to partake in, and I would be extremely thrilled to do it again.”
— Halima Dembele