CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The University of Virginia Center for Politics kicked off the Youth Ambassadors program with the Caribbean this week.

The program features 16 high-achieving youth leaders and three educators. Students have two weeks full of educational events and activities focused on leadership and public engagement.

"The youths that are selected are leaders in their communities and the point of this program is to improve their leadership skills so that changes can be made back home," said student Naila Rahamen. "I’m from Guyana and when I go back home, some of the things I want to achieve, mental health is one of my priorities, especially among students, cause it’s a big problem there, as well as women’s rights."

On Thursday, the youth ambassadors worked with Habitat for Humanity and will work with the National Park Service on service projects, attend a session on politics and government with Center for Politics director Larry J. Sabato, engage with Charlottesville-area peers, and host a Caribbean culture street performance on the Downtown Mall.