Pictured: Participants of the 2019 YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament program in Parliament House.
As the largest and oldest youth organisation in the world, young people are at the centre of everything we do at the Y. We want to empower young people to voice their opinions and concerns on issues important to them. That’s why we run a bunch of awesome programs to support and engage them.
Here are just a few:
YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament
This program is designed to give young Victorians a chance to be heard at the highest levels of State Government on a wide range of issues relevant to young people. In groups, the participants draft a bill within the remit of Victorian lawmaking which they debate at Parliament House.
Over the course of the program’s 33-year history, over 30 pieces of state legislation have originated from the program including Mandatory Wearing of a Bicycle Helmet and Gun Reformation Laws.
But the program does much more than just improve young people’s debating skills. It creates a sense of unity. In 2018, one young participant said that throughout the program special bonds are created between participants, and that it was the first time he truly felt accepted.
Pictured: A YMCA ReBuild employee working. YMCA ReBuild is a social enterprise that hires YMCA Bridge Project participants.
YMCA Bridge Project
The YMCA Bridge Project gives young ex-offenders a second chance by providing support, training, mentoring and employment opportunities. Since 2016, the program has helped over 550 young people find employment and assisted over 2,500 young people to complete Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways.
The program has a huge impact on the lives of its young participants and their families. It provides them with a sense of purpose and gives them the skills they need to cultivate a meaningful life.
At the 2019 YMCA Bridge Project Breakfast, an event that raises awareness for the program, a participant named Rav encouraged everyone to give people like him a second chance.
“Not everyone in prison is a bad person, they just make mistakes. Employment gives young people something to strive for… I encourage you to give young people like myself the opportunity to turn their lives around. Just like I did.”
Pictured: Participants of the 2019 Teenage Girls Retreat.
Teenage Girls Retreat
The Teenage Girls Retreat is a five-day program run by YMCA Southern Peninsula Youth Services that sets girls up with skills and strategies to improve their mental and physical health. In a time of unprecedented mental health concerns, it has never been more important for young people to equip themselves with the skills needed to become self-confident and resilient.
The retreat doesn’t provide counselling or prescribe medication. Instead, it offers a range of workshops and activities to help build confidence, increase self-esteem and assist the participants develop empowering strategies to optimistically navigate the challenges of their teenage years.