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Youth Advocacy Day – WINTER IMPACT

Youth Advocacy Day – WINTER IMPACT

Youth Advocacy Day

On February 10, 2017, I attended Youth Advocacy Day. To be honest, I was not expecting to enjoy myself. However, I was delightfully surprised, learned a lot, and am grateful for the experience. The day began with registration and breakfast at the United Churches of Olympia.  Next up was a crash course on the legislative policies that will be the focus of the day. Following that we broke up into groups and met with policymakers on the Capitol Campus. The day ended with a rally and march on the steps, then back to the church for the closing program and lunch.

My favorite part of the day was the morning program. Background information on each issue was given and then someone shared their personal experience and highlighted what the issues look like in real life. The first issue was to create a program to help foster youth obtain a driver’s permit, license and insurance. The cost can exceed $600 and only 11% of foster youth obtain their license before turning 18. The second issue was to end youth detention for status offenses. Young people are being detained for running away, truancy and curfew violations. A stay in detention is the biggest predictive factor for future justice system involvement. Furthermore, research shows that community-based interventions are more effective at addressing underlying causes of status offenses than detention. The third issue for the day was to renew funding for the Mockingbird Family Model. This program provides hub homes for foster families giving them the support and assistance they need.

In preparation to meet with legislators, we were given a guide for how to conduct the meeting. From greeting the legislator, to assigning a person to talk about each issue, asking for a commitment of support and closing the meeting with a thank you. These meetings were about the young people that these policies affect and empowering them to advocate for themselves. The meetings themselves varied greatly. Some meetings were with Senators well-versed in the issues and fully supported them and others, like my own, were with legislator assistants.

For those of you thinking of going next year, I would highly recommend it. If a full day of marching around the Capitol in freezing rain seems daunting, then just go for the morning program and the meetings. Even if you only stay for two hours, it is an enriching and educational experience. Angie Boice, Active Member.

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