Chidalu Emy-Munonye, a proud YMCA of Frederick County’s Youth and Government Downtown Delegation member, has found her voice and passion for public policy. Chidalu is a student at Urbana High School and was introduced to the Y four years ago. She describes it as her “third space,” a sanctuary between home and school.

Youth and Government is a program tailored for high school students that provides hands-on experience understanding government operations. For Chidalu, it served as a foundational platform to elevate her enthusiasm for public policy. Last month, her dedication to the delegation led her to be one of the 53 students chosen from 25 states to participate in the Y National Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C.

At National Advocacy Days, Chidalu engaged in discussions and decision-making processes on critical legislative matters, emphasizing youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Reflecting on her experience, she said, “Y Advocacy Days were so valuable to me because I got to sit inside the room where the decisions were being made and the policies were being discussed. It was an amazing experience.” Chidalu also seized the opportunity to advocate for access to quality afterschool and workplace readiness programs.

Chidalu credits Zalanka Jones’s, Senior Director of Teen Experience at the Y, support as instrumental in her Y journey. Zalanka praised Chidalu’s dedication: “The Y is committed to creating platforms and opportunities for students to have a voice. Teens like Chidalu are incredibly impressive, and it’s so inspiring to see them championing causes and issues that mean a lot to them.”

Observing Chidalu and her peers engage with elected officials, policy experts, and Y leaders during National Advocacy Days underscores the potential of youth in driving positive change. Witnessing this firsthand, it’s evident that our future is in capable hands.

Chidalu remains dedicated to creating positive change in her community and continues to learn and grow through her involvement with the Y and the Youth and Government Program.