Youth Governor Caitlin Meyer speaks at the YMCA Youth Parliament opening ceremony for 2016. Credit: Lexie Huculak
After five years in the YMCA Youth Parliament program, Caitlin Meyer is the 2016 Youth Governor.
As part of her role representing the program for its 30th year, Ms Meyer aims to widen its scope by engaging with small regional communities.
“There’s just not enough stretch from this program,” she said.
“We focus very much on central Victoria because it is really hard to reach out to kids that are really far-east and really far-west.”
Ms Meyer first got involved in Youth Parliament in 2010 in what was “a complete fluke” after coming to Melbourne from a rural community.
She had just entered a new school when she was approached by a fellow student looking for a new member to join her youth parliament team.
Ms Meyer said this was an unexpected yet welcomed surprise.
“I have a really ‘yes’ attitude so I just wanted to say yes to it and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.”
She initially expected the YMCA program to only comprise of competitive debates and so she found it difficult to engage with the personal development aspect of the program.
“I was ready to just debate and nothing further,” she said.
She, however, grew to “love” the program and chose to come back for her second year. And during a night of recreation activities, she realised the importance of empowering youth.
“I kind of just looked around and I went, this is where I want to be, this is what I want to be doing and I want to be engaging with young people, I want to be running programs like this for as long as physically can.”
In 2012, Ms Meyer pushed herself even further by applying to be apart of the YMCA taskforce – the collective name of the program leaders.
“Its completely changed the direction of my life,” she said.
Initially wanting to venture into the science field, Ms Meyer now works for the student-led expedition company, World Challenge.
World Challenge works with schools to organise trips to developing countries.
Students are given the opportunity to experience other cultures and develop a more global perspective on life.
“It’s really important for young Australians to be able to see the outside world and to be able to experience a life outside of what we are blessed with here in Australia,” she said.
“Its nice to be able to tie the empowerment factor into my actual day job while volunteering for YMCA.”
Ms Meyer is particularly interested in unifying “this incredible force of alumni that’s now over 3000 people” for the July 2 YMCA reunion, she said.
“You go through this exhausting process and you walk the same journey.
“It’s a real shame when participants finish this program. It feels like the end of a journey whereas it should be the beginning of one,” she said.
To book your place in this year’s alumni reunion, see here.
Ms Meyer said she’s excited to see where her ‘yes’ mentality takes her after the conclusion of her role as 2016 Youth Governor
“Every decision that’s led me to this point in my life has just been about saying yes to opportunities as they arise.”