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White Plains YMCA Youth And Government Group Earns State Honors

Students from the White Plains YMCA Youth and Government program took top awards at a recent state conference.
Students from the White Plains YMCA Youth and Government program took top awards at a recent state conference. Photo Credit: Contributed

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The White Plains YMCA Youth and Government program took top awards in early March at the annual state conference for area youth and government groups.

The team of 12 teenagers, under the leadership of White Plains Associate Executive Director Heather Bell Pellegrino, won the award for Top New York State Premier District (White Plains) and Best Debator, Youth and Government member Rizza Estacio.

This particular team was comprised of students from White Plains High School, although the YMCA Youth and Government program is open to all students in the Y’s service area from grades 9-12. Senior Kristin Sutton is the president of the group and Rose Reiken, a junior, is vice president.

The team presented four “bills” at a mock state legislature program, at which students from other student government programs across the state gathered in the state Senate building for a real-life experience presenting legislative bills.

Through their participation in a weekly free program operated by the White Plains YMCA and sponsored by Strauss Paper, these students learn how to draft a bill in the proper format, and also benefit from service learning projects in their community, such as a recent visit to The Vet Center in White Plains.

The White Plains YMCA team was coached by White Plains Mayor Tom Roach and Congresswoman Nita Lowey’s local representative, Patricia Keegan, and all of their bills were reviewed by White Plains YMCA Advisory Board Chair Gregg Baker.

A bill the team presented on mandatory domestic violence education programs in schools passed by a large majority.

It is interesting to note that many of the students who participate in this program during high school end up as elected officials in adulthood.

Youth and Government White Plains Y program members Kristin Sutton, Rose Reiken and Rizza Estacio were selected for the YMCA’s Youth Conference on National Affairs from hundreds of other student delegates, an honor bestowed on a choice few.

“We are so proud to be shaping the leaders of the future through this exceptional YMCA program,” Pellegrino said, “and are equally delighted that our delegates are advancing to the National YMCA Youth Conference.”

For more information about the White Plains YMCA Youth and Government programs and other YMCA programs, contact Anne Ring at 914 949-8030, ext 221 or aring@ymca-cnw.org

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