High School students in the YMCA of White Plains’ Youth and Government Club recently journeyed to the Capital Building in Albany to propose legislation to nearly 500 peers from across the state in a project aimed at teaching young people about how government works.
From left: Kyra Betheil, Seth Jaffe, Nina Feldman and Kristin Sutton, all of White Plains High School, and Joseph Colucci of Iona Prep, who went to Albany with the YMCA Youth and Government Club.
Developed over a six month period by 10th, 11th, and 12th graders from White Plains and Yonkers, one bill proposed stricter guidelines for purchases using social service benefit cards. The other would have allowed students to receive educational benefits paid for by their parents’ taxes in outside school districts.
“The bills had to be written in a particular format, and include statistics and citations from other cases on the same topic, as well as fiscal implications, consequences, and implementation dates,” said YMCA Teen Coordinator Cassandra Martell. “This project gives students insight in to how our government works, allows their voices to be heard, and is a great opportunity for them to network in a way they may not be able to otherwise.”
The legislation was developed by 10 local students, five of whom went to Albany for the presentation.
Although neither of their proposals were adopted, the White Plains contingent was recognized as one of six “premier” groups statewide.
“My favorite aspect of the trip was meeting people from all over New York,” said Kristin Sutton, a White Plains High School sophomore. “This club gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the confidence to speak in front of crowds.”