OFYC member Maddy L. travelled to Washington, D.C. in October to

participate in a special opportunity.

Here’s what she said about her experience:

What was the opportunity?

Maddy: American Institute for Research (AIR), the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP), the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) brought together young people, supportive adults, and federal policymakers on October 28-29, 2018 to better understand how youth make decisions in their daily lives. I was 1 of 22 youth chosen out of 145 applicants across the country, and everyone was from such different backgrounds. We were answering the question “how do youths makes decisions? what decisions are youths making? and who do you go to for help?”

Who else was chosen to participate in this?

A lot of youth were in foster care, but others were apart of minority power groups, one youth worked on his local election teams, there was also really good representation for LGBTQ+ community and people advocating for mental health. My personal background is that I was in and out of foster care for nine years, and i’m a person of color in a very white city.

What did you do?

My group focused on identity. We talked a lot about race, religion, and sexual orientation and asking the big question: who am I? We got to talk to federal staff about identity, education, jobs, and health care. AIR is federally funded by a lot of different groups but the kind of people that showed up were representatives for the board of education, homelessness, agricultural, and a few others.

Why was it important to take part in this opportunity?

Because if people don’t know what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, they simply can’t help us! The world around us moves so fast with technology it’s hard to keep up, especially with teenagers. I thought this would be a cool opportunity to be a voice for more underrepresented groups because not all of us are making the same decisions. But no matter what decisions we’re making there’s a way to support us and we just needed to tell them how and be a voice for the younger generation as they navigate the world around them.