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Students prepare for trip to Capitol

Eighteen high school students recently presented bills before a panel as part of the Y's teen leadership program. The evening prepared students for their upcoming trip to the state Capitol.

Every year, the Anaheim Family YMCA Youth and Government program holds a Bill Hearing Night that gives students a voice in their community. They address key issues in society that they want to see changed.

Bill topics range from student safety to equality among individuals in the workplace.

"I admire these kids for their courage to get up in front of adults and speak about what they believe in," said Jordan Brandman, newly-elected Anaheim City Council member and guest panelist. "They are learning how our government works, gaining valuable experiences and skills and also learning how to make a difference."

Other guest panelists included: Lt. Kelly Jung of the Anaheim Police Department; Patricia Sandoval, principal at Thomas Edison Elementary School; and Chris French, former YMCA Youth and Government Program Director.

During Bill Hearing Night, panel members provided advice and feedback to help students improve their bills and delivery before they present them in Sacramento, where about 2,000 students represent other YMCA's in California.

The trip is important to the students.

"We have been working hard since September coming up with bills, writing them, doing the research, learning about the legislation process and now presenting them in front of important people," said Sam Olsen, a junior in high school. "The presentations at the state Capitol (are) the hardest part, so we have to continue working hard to make our bills better."

Samantha Baker, 17, has been involved with the program for two years. "I feel more confident going up and doing public speaking," said Baker. "I love Y&G and spending time with my Y family because I'm learning new things, having fun and I'm preparing myself for college."

- Submitted by Ivana Mendez

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