Changemakers

The+YMCA+Building.+They+offer+multiple+opportunities+for+students+to+get+involved.+

Emily Hu

The YMCA Building. They offer multiple opportunities for students to get involved.

Emily Hu, Print Editor-in-Chief

Ann Arbor YMCA, a place for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility has been offering many great teen programs for the Ann Arbor community.

“In this capacity, I remember being in middle school, no one taking me seriously, and that’s not such a great feeling,” said Madison Kraning, the teen program coordinator at the Ann Arbor YMCA. “You guys may be young, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t capable of making a great change or having really important and profound things to say.”

The YMCA offers many different programs that help teens get involved in the community. They have homework circles, where teens can get homework help or free tutoring. There is Action and Advocacy camp, an after school program also currently opened here at Clague Middle School, which focuses on legislation, politics, government, and issues in our community. There are also youth volunteer options, which are conversations surrounding a certain central topic that is offered on a monthly basis. Michigan Youth in Government is another program where teens can experience what it feels like to be a legislator and get to write bills.

“They teach you how to be civically engaged, to be able to spot things that are happening in your community and highlight them as an issue or a solution that needs to be or is a problem,” said Kraning.

These programs are a platform where teens can develop into productive members of society.  A place where teens can have profound conversations and voice their opinions and thoughts.

In fact, even as a teen, there are many ways to get involved in the community. Through the days of being stuck at home because of Covid-19, a lot of teens have stayed connected by using social media. Social Media has been a place where teens have been spreading their ideas to more people, staying relevant or following certain movements. 

Another way teens are staying civically engaged is by volunteering at different organizations in our community. Places like YMCA, Natural Area Perseverance (Nap), Food Gatherers, Corner Health Center and many more places all are in need of young teens that can stand as strong leaders and be the next generation of changemakers.

“All the generations before us wanted us to make a positive impact on our community, but I don’t think any of us has ever been told how to do it, they just told us to figure it out ourselves and do it,” said Kraning, “So, this program was created to make sure that the next generation of changemakers actually knows how to make positive change, not just expected to figure it out on their own.”

Even though there are a lot of things teens are still considered too young to do, there are still many ways to work around it: Being engaged in politics, problems happening in the communities, staying involved and helping out are only some of the few.

“I think this program definitely makes a direct impact on the community, teens are too young to vote, but you can help your friends that are older know to vote, family know to vote, Kraning said. “ You can help inform everybody about not just government but the importance of government and how we can make a direct impact on it.”