Liverpool The time it took Samantha McCarthy to walk from her seat to the front of the room after hearing her name called at the YMCA Youth and Government end-of-the-year banquet seemed to be a full 10 minutes. The chairs were placed very close together, and she didn’t anticipate having to navigate through them.
“They call out the alternates first, and I was sitting there thinking, ‘You know, it would be really cool to be chosen,’” said McCarthy, a sophomore at Liverpool High School and participant in the North Area Family YMCA Youth and Government program. “And they were done with the alternates and I was like, ‘OK, I’m not chosen. Whatever.’ I don’t know why I thought that.”
To McCarthy’s surprise, her name was called. She had been selected to represent New York state at the YMCA Youth Conference on National Affairs, a national conference that will be held in North Carolina from June 29 to July 5. McCarthy, along with 20 other students from New York state, was selected after her performance at the statewide Youth and Government conference in Albany in March.
McCarthy joined the Youth and Government program during her freshman year of high school because her sister Amanda, now a senior who will be attending Le Moyne College next year for pre-med, had loved her time in the program. The program is open to students in grades seven through 12, and participants do not need to be YMCA members.
Youth and Government participants meet once a week, beginning in September and ending in March, and work on addressing issues that are important to students, said Tess Kenney, teen director at the North Area YMCA. They begin working on parliamentary procedure and writing actual bills.
“We follow the policies and procedures exactly as any state would to write a bill or to debate a case,” Kenney said. “We do this throughout the wintertime, and it culminates with a conference in Albany in March, where we take a whole weekend and take over the state office building.”