Six students from the YMCA of Arlington Youth & Government program attended the Texas Youth & Government YMCA State Conference at the State Capitol Building in Austin, on January 29-February 1, 2015. After a promising four months of preparation, and being the first year for the YMCA of Arlington to participate in the program, the six students were able to pass five mock bills amongst their colleagues at the State Conference.
YMCA Youth & Government, a program that involves thousands of teens nationwide in state-organized model-government programs, grants teens the opportunity to discuss and debate issues that affect citizens in their state and to propose possible legislation to make state government more efficient. As a result of the program, young people learn about the democratic system and are trained in parliamentary procedure, legislative committee process, debate, press relations, and lobby techniques. Delegates learn by doing and have the opportunity to try their hand at leadership in an open and receptive learning environment. The six students, Dani Smith, Nicholas Shepard, Chyna Lester, Mabel Sodeinde, Ossmar Cardiel, and Emmanuel Mariscal, all freshmen at International Leadership of Texas High School, proposed bills to their chamber from abolishing the death penalty to levying any additional taxes or health insurance payment until minimum wage was increased. Out of the six proposed bills, five were voted on and passed in their chamber of 1,400 YMCA Youth and Government students across Texas.
“I’m proud of the hard work these young adults have put in these past few months,” Jordan Taylor, YMCA of Arlington Youth, Teen and Family Program Director stated. “I’ve had the privilege of watching them grow each and every week, from students who just wanted me to tell them what to say, to confident future politicians who seek to debate me over why the Texas voting age should be changed to 16.”
Upon the beginning of the program, the Y gained support from the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation Grant in the amount of $12,500 to begin Youth & Government program at the YMCA of Arlington. With this funding the program was able to cover the costs of student supplies, financial aid to join the program, and transportation support that sent them to the State Conference in Austin.
For more information on the YMCA of Arlington Youth & Government program or if interested in participating please contact Jordan Taylor, at JordanT@ymca-arlington.org or 817-419-9629 x4700.