“I always had an inkling that this is what I wanted to do, because I love to debate. I always watched the news growing up and I have always felt a little bit of a calling to serve my community,” said McAuley High School senior Katie Bermann, of her experience with the Y’s Youth in Government (YG) program. “The empowerment you feel in this program is strong, once you get a little taste of it, you want more.”
After attending her first meeting on a whim three years ago, the YG program has paved Katie’s career path. She envisions one day running for public office, becoming a practicing attorney or a lobbyist; however, regardless of what Katie chooses to do, it will revolve around her passion of affecting positive change through policy. She will attend Ohio State University in the fall and double-major in political science and economics.
Teens in the program learn about the legislative process, how to write and research bills, and how to participate in elections. Their work culminates in teens serving as delegates at their state conference, debating bills on the floor of the legislature.
“I’ve really learned everything you could hope to learn from the program - my debate skills, my political advocacy and self-confidence all have increased,” Katie said. “The friendships you make and the self-confidence you get in the YMCA YG program really helps you discover who you are.”
“What I have been most passionate about, and one of the goals of the YMCA Youth in Government program, is ensuring democracy for future generations,” said Jamond Foree, director of the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati Youth in Government program. “Students are getting an opportunity to get engaged early on in their lives, and they’re getting the chance to see not only how government works - but how it only works if people participate.”
When Jamond first started with the program four years ago, there were only six students signed up. Today, the program serves 150 students, including 56 who participated in the state conference, and is one of the fastest growing YG programs in the United States.
The Ohio YMCA's Youth & Government Program (YG) enhances development of the American democratic process through participatory training in the theory and practice of the Ohio state government.
“What makes all of this such a great learning experience is the fact that the YMCA is so committed to servant leadership,” Katie said. “I would have never pursued what I am pursuing, had it not been for the opportunities that I have been given through the YMCA Youth in Government program.”
For more information about the YG program, contact Jamond Foree at email@example.com or call (513) 362-9622 ext. 2038.
YMCA of Greater Cincinnati holding free water egg hunts on Sunday, April 2
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