Merced youths to visit state Capitol to learn about civic engagement

A group of Merced girls will make a trip to the state Capitol next Monday for Youth Advocacy Day.
The purpose, according to organizers, is to introduce local girls of color to influential women and start them in path of civic engagement.
Kelly Turner, founder and director of Symple Equazion, the Merced nonprofit group organizing the event, said the group plans a variety of excursions, allowing economically and socially disadvantaged youths to visit other cities in the state.
Events, such as Monday’s “Girls and Women of Color Rising” trip, have a huge impact on youths, Turner said. She said some of the participating youths have never left Merced, and opportunities to travel are important to show them that there is more to the world.
Many of these young people haven’t ventured outside of the Merced area because their families do not have access to transportation, Turner said.
“To have them think the world consists of Merced is heartbreaking,” she said.
At the Capitol, the girls will have the opportunity to sit in and see how a bill is heard and passed. The girls will also meet with members of the Legislative Women’s Caucus and with Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced.
Most of the participants are from Le Grand High School and from Symple Equazion’s “Youth I Can,” one of the organization’s most popular youth programs.
“They are ecstatic,” Turner said about the participating youths. The trip also opened up an opportunity for some of these girls to get business casual attire, which many did not own. “They can’t wait to wear their new dresses,” she said.
Turner encourages youths to visit the McNamara Youth Center, the home of Symple Equazion. To become involved in programs that expose them to the outside world can be beneficial to adolescents’ self-esteem, she said. She explained that the skills obtained in youth programs like these are skills that they will use as adults.
“As an adult you reach back and use those skills learned as a child,” she said.
Turner thought the Capitol was a good place to visit as a hook to get them motivated and plugged into civic participation.
People with questions about the programs offered by Symple Equazion, can email Turner at kturner@sympleequazion88.com or call (209) 349-8355.
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