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Amplifying Youth Voice: C4K Youth at Capitol Hill Day

To wrap up the month-long National Mentoring Month campaign, our Mentor Coordinator Tricia Howell and members Desi, Asad, and Justin joined MENTOR for the seventh annual Capitol Hill Day (virtual this year).

Meetings were organized through MENTOR and MENTOR VA. C4K Staff and members met with representatives from Senator Tim Kaine, Senator Mark Warner, and Representative Bob Good’s offices.

In preparation for Capitol Hill Day, the group met to discuss their talking points. Members shared why mentoring matters to them and how mentoring at C4K has positively impacted them.

” Asad, Desi, & Justin showed strength and courage in their advocacy. It was inspiring and educational to stand side by side with a youth towards a shared goal while addressing government representatives. When youth have a seat at the table it completes the story and the message stands strong.”

Vanessa Reyes, Director of Americorps Program, MENTOR VA

In addition to sharing personal stories, the group advocated for legislative priorities outlined by MENTOR and shared a Congressional “leave behind sheet” further detailing requested legislative action.

“I see Capitol Hill Day as an opportunity to bring the work that happens on the ground floor of our communities to the attention of elected officials and their teams. Having youth voices there in the meetings at Capitol Hill Day to advocate for the work that is happening in mentoring programs not only made a powerful case for expanded funding, but was a strong reminder that as adults we need to find ways to keep passing the mic to youth whenever possible. It was the young people who made us laugh and tear-up with the stories they told about their experiences with C4K. They are the reason we do this work in the first place.”

Sarah Wilkinson, Programs Manager, MENTOR VA

C4K is centered around youth voice and self-advocacy by allowing youth to take the lead on many things. Our youth members’ involvement in Capitol Hill Day was the perfect opportunity for them to practice youth voice and advocate for what they believe in with elected officials and legislators. Events like Capitol Hill Day are meaningful, but also necessary for our youth to influence policies and legislation directly.

“I think that they both [Capitol Hill Day & 2021 MENTOR Summit] went spectacularly. It was an amazing experience that really gave me a chance to use my voice. It’s an opportunity I know a lot of people don’t get, and I’m honored to have been able to attend both. I was so nervous but it all worked out and wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. It’s a fun experience and you get to meet new people. Also, it helps with public speaking skills and gets me used to talking to a lot of people at once.”

Desi, C4K Youth Member

Desi, Asad, and Justin did an outstanding job representing themselves, C4K, and our community! We look forward to participating in more events like this.