Three teens attending the Youth Policy Summit in Washington DC

(L-R) Colin Pulickathadam, Amya Seaborne and Markayla Gillyard at the Youth Policy Summit.

The Tampa YMCA is proud to empower teens by giving them opportunities to learn about and experience government policies and methodologies firsthand. We believe that educating young people on local politics is crucial as it develops a deeper appreciation for democracy, encourages participation in decision-making processes and helps shape society's future.  

Earlier this year, Meagan Smithyman, Executive Director of Community Schools & Family Outreach for the Tampa YMCA, joined three Y teens on a trip to the White House for a Youth Policy Summit.  

Colin Pulickathadam, Amya Seaborne and Markayla Gillyard were three out of 100 teens selected to participate in the impactful two-day summit.  

Colin shares, "I was invited to attend the 2024 White House Youth Policy Summit through the YMCA! This conference brought together 100 members of Generation Z from across the nation, all recognized for their impactful work within their communities.”  

He adds, “It was an exciting and rewarding experience, providing me with a special opportunity to visit and tour the White House, network with federal policymakers and share my Y story with influential stakeholders eager to support programs fostering youth development and well-being. It was inspiring to connect with fellow summit members and share our lived experiences with federal officials. Undoubtedly, I attribute my current confidence to the time I spent in my local Teen Leaders Club during middle and high school. I am forever grateful for the opportunities the Y has provided me and their commitment to youth development."

By providing programs like Teen Leaders Club, Teen Achievers and Youth in Government, we are able to equip the next generation with the necessary tools to advocate for their beliefs.  

Meagan notes, “There were many things I heard during this two-day Summit that I’m excited to bring back to the Tampa YMCA to enhance our own teen programs. I look forward to working alongside young people to create a space where they can learn, advocate and share their lived experiences to create a better Y and better community.”  

You can join Meagan in strengthening teens like Colin and our community when you support a teen program today!

Published Tuesday, March 19, 2024.