SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Somerset County YMCA is launching a civic engagement program for middle and high school students, including a Youth and Government and Model UN.

“Somerset County YMCA is committed to youth development and civic engagement,” David M. Carcieri, president and CEO of Somerset County YMCA, said in a release. “Leadership, community service and academic enrichment programs, such as Youth and Government and Model UN, encourage all children to perform at their very best and provide them with opportunities to pursue their ambitions.”

Through Youth and Government, students will learn about civic engagement and responsibility with hands-on experience. In April, a delegation of six teens from the Hillsborough YMCA drafted and presented four bills before the New Jersey Youth and Government Junior Legislature Assembly.

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Flemington resident Cassidy Gabriel, 18, led the charge to launch the delegation.

“As a teenager, you may have strong feelings about how to solve societal problems, but no outlet,” she said in the release. “Youth and Government gave me a voice and a platform to get my ideas heard by people in power who could affect change.”

The Somerville YMCA will also launch Model UN, a unique program that allows students to learn by example how the United Nations operates, and its role in peacekeeping and humanitarian work.

Bridgewater-Raritan High School student Meher Mankikar, a student leader and six-time Model UN delegate, will launch the delegation.

“I’m grateful to the Y for giving me the opportunity to get more kids involved with Model UN through a new delegation,” she said. “Model UN has had such a positive impact on my life. It has provided me with opportunities to grow and mature and to challenge myself. Students who are interested in world affairs, cooperating well with others, gaining leadership skills or public speaking should consider joining this program.”

For information, contact Matt Gray at mgray@somersetcountyymca.org or Kate Russo at krusso@somersetcountyymca.org.