YMCA of Greater Brandywine Relaunches Youth & Government Program Virtually at No Charge

The Capital Building in DC is pictured as a symbol of government in the United States

Program Helps Young People Experience How Our Government Works and Find Common Ground

As the political division in our country grows larger, it can seem harder, if not impossible, to find common ground. That’s why the YMCA of Greater Brandywine (YGBW), a nonprofit association of eight YMCA branches (Brandywine YMCA, Jennersville YMCA, Kennett Area YMCA, Lionville Community YMCA, Octorara YMCA Program Center, Oscar Lasko YMCA & Childcare Center, Upper Main Line YMCA, West Chester Area YMCA) in Chester County, is excited to relaunch its Youth & Government program this month. 

The program, which was halted last spring due to COVID-19, helps middle and high school students develop into strong citizens who are knowledgeable in determining the future of our government. Students learn about the democratic system and how to write a bill, while also debating and sharing opinions diplomatically through the program. 

“The best ideas and solutions often occur when those with different opinions work together to evolve their ideas,” says Denise Day, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine. “With the extraordinary challenges we are and will continue to face as a nation, we need to equip our country’s youth with a solid understanding of how our government works, provide opportunities for them to develop the skills to find common ground and help build their confidence.” 

Kristian Williamson was hesitant to join the program several years ago. “I was unsure because I didn’t have much confidence in myself, but everyone kept pushing me to share my opinion.” Now, seven years later, Kristian has graduated from Coatesville High School, is attending Villanova University and majoring in Political Science and Government. “The Youth & Government program improved my social skills and my confidence, as well as my public speaking ability,” says Williamson. 

Chris Hutelmyer, who leads YGBW’s Youth & Government program is excited to get started, with the program being offered virtually on Monday evenings. “It’s remarkable to watch the growth in the students through the class. In the past, students have written bills about requiring labels on school lunches, limiting time in solitary confinement and more,” says Hutelmyer. “It will be interesting to see what topics the kids choose given all that is happening in our country now.” 

The program is open to all middle and high school students in our community and there is no charge to enroll. (If a participant would like to attend the virtual model conference where students from across the state will debate their bills, there is a small fee. Hutelmyer notes that he will be organizing a model conference with the students who enroll in YGBW’s program and there will be no charge for them to attend that.)

To register, visit YGBW’s website.

Contact Chris Hutelmyer at chutelmyer@ymcagbw.org with questions.