Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties Receives National Advocacy Award

The Giving Coast

BGCA Government Relations awards are bestowed upon leaders from both inside and outside the Movement who have significantly contributed to Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s government relations efforts. Award recipients are selected for their leadership and commitment toward achieving critical policy and funding successes that have a positive impact on Boys & Girls Clubs and the youth they serve. During the 2022 National Conference in Chicago, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties received the first ever Youth Megaphone Award which was accepted by Board Chair, Meghan Serrano. BGCSDC was recognized at the National Conference for the meaningful contributions and collaborations teens have made with state and local government. Advocacy 101 and The Club’s Youth Council are two award-winning programs that demonstrate BGCSDC’s commitment to helping teens find their voice and passion for issues they believe in. Advocacy 101 provides teens an opportunity to participate in state government, while Youth Council is a youth-led and youth-driven initiative that allows teens to work collectively for change and social justice. BGCSDC’s 2022 Youth of the Year, Bernadette N., was a member of The Club’s Advocacy 101 and participated in the Florida House of Representatives Page & Messenger Program. This week-long experience provided teens the opportunity to travel with Club staff to Tallahassee to observe lawmakers, lobbyists and constituents as they work together in the legislative process. Bernadette was able to speak on the floor and address members of the House concerning a bill she helped to co-write during her participation of Girls State & Girls Nation. Bernadette’s bill, the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, aimed to combat the prevalence of food deserts in Florida. Bernadette’s story is one of many that highlights the success of BGCSDC’s teen advocacy programs in empowering youth to not only be a part of the legislative process, but to research, draft and present their concerns in a way that creates lasting change.

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