Youth and Government may still be predominantly white but McClymonds and other chapters such as Crenshaw, San Francisco and East LA are hoping to make an impact
By Janaya Andrews
For 16-year-old Khristan Antoine, a senior at McClymonds, it was a taste of what it might be to change the world.
“I learned not to give up when something’s hard and to put up with some judging and prejudice,” she said.
After five days of writing bills, lobbying and debating issues in Sacramento, students from McClymonds said that their five-day experience with YMCA Youth and Government was worthwhile and challenging.
The delegation from McClymonds, led by YMCA’s Erika Walker, has grown from six students to 18 students, the most ever, including 10 sophomores and four freshmen.
The bills they wrote, lobbied for and debated included a proposal to set a minimum age for marriage at 16, to hold gun buybacks twice a year and to require all drivers — not just teens — to have six hours of training behind the wheel and go through a period of time on a permit.
Antoine said that she joined this program because her leadership teacher Relonda McGhee said it would be a great idea if she joined Y&G.
The only criticism that McClymonds students expressed centered on the long sessions and strict dress codes (several students bought new “business” clothes).
Despite the restrictions, students said they bonded with others and learned how to argue and compromise. Daijahnae Labat, 14, a freshman, said that she just wanted to try new things.
“I liked the team building,” said Dazhane Labat, 15, another freshman. “We learned about how goverment works and all its practices.”