Published On: Mon, Sep 26th, 2016

Two 8 Year-Olds Announce their Candidacy During the YMCA’s National Campaign

By: Michelle Kaplan

Two pint-sized politicians with big political ambitions launched their 2040 mayoral campaigns a little early with some help from Mayors Susan Haynie of Boca Raton, Boynton Beach Mayor, Steven B. Grant and former Mayor of Delray Beach Jeff Perlman at the YMCA Kid for Mayor Press Event at the Devos-Blum Family YMCA of Boynton Beach, Sept. 13.

zoe_for_president_04The event is part of the Y’s first-ever national campaign, Zoe for President, designed to shine a light how the Y’s various programs, from early education to youth development and career readiness can prepare a kid for anything, even the presidency.

“It’s about recognizing the potential of every child,” said Jason Hagensick, president and CEO of the YMCA of South Palm Beach County. “Healthy living and encouraging social responsibility, it’s at the heart of what this campaign is about.”

For the YMCA Zoe represents every child, who, given the right tools, can reach their potential.

To bring the national campaign closer to home, the YMCA of South Palm Beach County had two 8-year old volunteers, Zepplyn Berry of Boca Raton and Giada Caniza of Boynton Beach announce their candidacy for Mayor of their hometowns. Each candidate had a unique experience, shadowing their mayor around for a day, so they could find out just what they were getting themselves into.

Zepplyn Berry a third-grader who attends Del Prado Elementary School in Boca and is on the Y’s swim team didn’t think the job was very busy but admitted that Mayor Haynie works hard.

Zepplyn’s platform was clear.

“I want kids to read more and more kids need to learn how to swim,” she said. “Reading books can teach you new things; they’re very interesting and fun.”

Mayor Haynie gave Zepplyn her seal of approval.

“She’s very mature,” said Mayor Haynie. “We discussed her platform for her candidacy, all very important issues that I have used many times when I’ve run for mayor – we’re aligned.”

The mayor not only handed Zepplyn a resounding endorsement, but a proclamation, proclaiming Sept. 13 as Zepplyn Berry for Mayor Day in Boa Raton.

Like any candidate Zepplyn didn’t miss a chance to say a few words about one of her favorite organizations, the Y.

“It’s really fun,” she said. “It gives me confidence to excel at school, it teaches me discipline and keeps me active, it teaches me core values – responsibility, honesty and caring.”

Running for Boynton Beach Mayor is 8-year-old Giada Caniza, a third-grader at Freedom Shores Elementary School in Boynton Beach whose hobbies include dance.

After following Mayor Grant around for a day, she summed him up.

“Mayor Grant is a very good man,” she said. “He is smart. He inspired me to be more like a mayor. I’m a caring, honest, respectful person.”

Giada stepped up to the podium, declared her candidacy and spoke a little about her platform.

“I want to be mayor of Boynton Beach,” she said. “I want to help other people have a healthy and nice life.”

Giada’s aims to protect people, animals and stop bullying.

Giada also enjoys the YMCA.

“We have fun,” she said. “I like being out with lots of my friends here.”

Mayor Grant admits that his first introduction to the YMCA was through the Village People and that iconic song.

With five months under his belt, the newly elected mayor said that Boynton’s Park and Recreation Department would partner with the YMCA to work to expand the Y’s reach in the community.

“The YMCA is a wonderful place,” said Grant.

Mayor Haynie concurs.

“These are two such bright young ladies,” said Mayor Haynie. “It’s just so nice to see the YMCA encourage such social responsibility in the next generation – and a lot of fun.”

On hand to give a little sage advice was the former mayor of Delray Beach, Jeff Perlman.

“Being mayor is important,” said Perlman. “Your job is to protect the city and move it forward.”

He encouraged the girls to seek this local position because of the immediate difference you can make in your community.

“Be mayor of your hometown,” said Perlman. “If you have an idea on a Tuesday night and if two others on Council agree, you can see change on a Wednesday morning. You can really move the needle here.

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