Youth Changemaker: Yenifer Gallegos

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Why I think it is important for Kansas government officials to operate in the light of day, rather than in secret, behind closed doors: 

"Yenifer is a passionate, driven woman whose broad involvement in youth issues showcases her commitment to equipping youth with a voice."

 

- The Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council

Yenifer Gallegos, 18, is a 4-year member of the Kerman Youth Commission in California. With the Commission, she has participated in numerous campaigns for change within Fresno County, California, working with Allstate, her school and local libraries to pass local resolutions in support of distracted driving prevention, underage drinking prevention and a proclamation in support of funding for local libraries.

She is a Youth Leader for the Kerman Chapter of Friday Night Live, a partnership that provides the leadership and field support  for youth development and leadership for a number of youth action and advisory councils throughout California.

As a young decision-maker and collaborator and self-described "social worker in the making," Yenifer believes that youth deserve a place at the table when it comes to policies that impact young communities. To educate herself on the issues and represent her peers in the policies in her community of Fresno County, Yenifer sits on numerous youth advisory boards for local, state and national advocacy and funding programs, including the Youth Leadership Institute Youth Leadership Advisory Board and the Substance Abuse Prevention Mini-Grants Youth Advisory Board through the California Health Collaborative.

As a young leader on these youth advisory boards, Yenifer is involved in important strategy and decision-making like facilitating meetings and trainings for groups of youth and adults, identifying projects for the boards to work on and reviewing and approving grants of over $250,000 for nonprofit, church or youth-led efforts to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.

“A lot of teenagers rely on alcohol and drugs, and they need to realize that those things aren't good for them. By creating programs that will keep them off these unhealthy habits, they can see that there are better things out there,” says Yenifer.

Yenifer is also involved with the Girl Scouts and is a member of the troop that led an Earth Day event past April, which was planned all throughout the school year. She worked to find volunteers to help out and join the troop to pick up litter around the city—and even convinced her school district’s superintendent to join.

Yenifer is also involved in Henry Perea's 31st District Young Legislators program, which brings two students from each school in her district to learn about school policies and how they are formed by working directly with Assemblyman Perea and through field trips and mock trials at the state capitol.

Headed to Fresno State University in the fall, Yenifer plans to continue serving by doing what she knows: getting involved in programs and clubs that let her opinion be heard—including a youth recreational seat in the city council.

“It is important to have a Presidential Youth Council so the government has representation from people my age. Youth need a voice in policymaking so that way we can have a say in what affects us and the future—because we are the future,” says Yenifer.

“My reaction to being named a SparkAction 24 Under 24 Changemaker was excitement and joy—it shows me that dedication and hard work is paying off.”


This profile was submitted to the Top 24 Under 24 Youth Changemakers competition hosted by SparkAction and the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council to recognize young changemakers influencing policy and practice at the local, state and national levels in the U.S.

The selection of the top 24 was made by members of the Campaign and SparkAction staff. Stay tuned for more profiles of young people making a difference, or submit one of your own!