Staff Report

Students in the Youth & Government program at Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA recently completed their year with a trip to the state Capitol in Sacramento, where they took the floor and participated in the democratic process first-hand.

The six-month-long, learn-by-doing experience brings together a cross-section of local and statewide high school students to discuss issues and practice real democracy. Students work to solve community problems through discussion and debate.

“I was lucky enough to come across Youth and Government my freshman year, and to say the last four years I’ve spent in this program have been anything less than life-changing would be doing them injustice,” said Madison Johnson, the local delegation’s treasurer. “Youth and Government has supported me unconditionally, accepted me for my honest and true self, and has taught me that I, and everyone around me, has a voice that deserves to be heard.”

Participating in Youth & Government provides students with opportunities for leadership development, public speaking, research and writing, critical thinking, and a greater understanding of civic engagement.

“I joined Y&G as a freshman feeling unsure about what to expect. Later that year, with inspiration from my advisor, I took a leap of faith to run for a statewide position. Youth and Government has provided numerous opportunities for me to gain confidence in leadership and public speaking. It has been the most fun and beneficial experience of my high school career,” said delegation president Alex Elliott.

The local program is one of 98 in California. The program was founded in 1948, and in just the past 15 years Youth & Government has served close to 45,000 youth.

The 2018-19 program at the local YMCA will begin in August.

For more information, send email to or call 805-686-2037, ext. 224.