By Jennifer Prince ’19
For more than a decade, Archbishop Mitty High School’s social justice team, the Mitty Advocacy Project (MAP), has attended the Catholic Youth Advocacy Day in Sacramento. In about a month, they’ll participate again. The purpose of this day is to give Catholic high school students an opportunity to participate in legislative advocacy. Students from across the state meet with state assembly members and senators to discuss issues that are meaningful to them, such as mental health awareness and gun control, in an effort to inspire real, governmental action to better the California community.
Throughout the day, the Catholic spirit of social justice permeates the event. The first meeting place of the day is always the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, the spiritual home of the Diocese of Sacramento. In the morning, all student advocates meet in the Cathedral to participate in Mass.
“We are given time to reflect on our decision to come to the Capitol Building and advocate,” said senior Malavika Ramarao. “We are reminded that we are doing this because of our duty to care for all that is around us. Furthermore, our conviction to continue our advocating work is renewed by the celebration’s message of love and stewardship.”
All in all, the Mass is the perfect introduction to the rest of the morning’s schedule. Until noon, the basement of the Cathedral is filled with student-run workshops and presentations to inform attendees about a wide range of topics. In the past, these sessions have included talks on how policy proposals become law and interactive workshops about art and advocacy. Following lunch, students from each school walk to the Capitol Building and meet with legislators from afternoon until early evening.
The heart of Catholic Youth Advocacy Day lies in the discussions students have with policy-makers that afternoon. For Archbishop Mitty High School students, these meetings with local legislators are important because this is an occasion for everyone in MAP to get involved in advocacy. Catholic Youth Advocacy Day provides 30 Monarchs — both upperclassmen and underclassmen — an opportunity to talk to their elected representatives.
Every year, the delegation from MAP to Sacramento grows. Recently, MAP has also used this event as a unique opportunity to reach out to other schools and advocacy groups so students can share ideas. This networking opportunity builds solidarity among teens as students learn about each other’s regional social justice concerns and priorities. As a growing number of students continue to meet with their policymakers, the state of California will hopefully see more change impacting our local community.