Ophelia '25 in Washington, D.C. for YMCA National Advocacy Day

YMCA of Middle Tennessee Youth in Government program participant Ophelia Cherry Pulay '25 traveled to Washington, D.C. with a delegation of Middle Tennessee leaders to meet with Congressional members.
Ophelia Cherry Pulay '25 participated in the Y’s Youth Advocate Program in February as part of YMCA National Advocacy Days. The program creates opportunities for high school students to gain practical, real-world experience by advocating for policy solutions that help Ys address critical social issues in the organization’s three areas of focus – youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.
Ophelia met with Congressional members Tim Burchett, Mark Green, Scott Desjarlais, John Rose, Chuck Fleischmann, and David Kustoff while in the nation’s Capitol, spending time advocating for increased funding for civic education programs, like Model United Nations and Youth in Government. She participates in programs offered by the YMCA’s Center for Civic Engagement, which serves to educate youth on the processes of government at the city, state, national, and international levels, in hopes of beginning a lifetime of civic engagement for participants.

"I had such a wonderful time in D.C. I learned so much about the inner workings of the legislature through my hands-on experience. Talking with chiefs of staff, aides, and legislators gave me more knowledge about the technical processes of advocacy as well as invaluable communication and connection skills," Ophelia said. "My favorite part was easily the group of other talented young people I met through this program. This experience was unforgettable, and I would highly recommend it to other civic-minded students."
This spring, more than 2,800 middle and high school students will take part in three Youth in Government conferences for high school students and five designated for middle school students. Ophelia's role in her conference is Floor Leader.
YMCA National Advocacy Days is held annually in Washington, D.C., bringing together Y leaders from across the country to learn about Y-USA's advocacy agenda, gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Y advocate, and meet with their elected officials to discuss issues important to Ys and the communities they serve.

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