New Jersey Youth and Government Advocacy Day

September 26, 2018

On June 18, 2018, the YMCA New Jersey Youth and Government (NJ YAG) program, held its Advocacy Day legislative simulation in the historic New Jersey State House. Students were selected to participate in the program after attending a two-day simulation conference held in April. The conference enables students to debate bills that they have written, forge new friendships and gain a deeper sense of civic awareness.

Nine students, from Freehold, Metuchen, Burlington, and Willingboro, came together with YMCA lobbyist Libby Vinson, and the State Alliance to spend the day meeting with legislatures, sitting in on committee meetings, and setting up a booth in the State House to capture legislatures and advocate for two bill items: childcare subsidies and mandatory recess. The day included a meet and greet with legislatures from their individual districts as well as a tour of the State House.

Student, Nalin G. from Freehold, was given the opportunity to testify in a committee meeting on the impact of recess and the importance of the bill. Below is a summary of his experience:

“This past June I had the distinct pleasure of participating in the YMCA’s youth advocacy day. Growing up I have always looked up to our state’s legislators as role models and sources of inspiration. Getting the opportunity to speak in front of such individuals about an issue that I am passionate about has been a once in a lifetime experience. Sitting in that committee room in the Statehouse, I couldn’t help but imagine the number of assembly persons, senators, and bills that have all gone through this same room in the past several years. I was a part of our state’s history while paving the way for our future. At the end of the day, I felt empowered to have made a tangible impact on our state’s government all while being only a high school student. I would like to thank the New Jersey Youth and Government Program for giving me the opportunity to participate in such an event and I hope to be a part of something like this again in the future.”