Every year, students from YMCAs across Texas have been preparing for the YMCA Texas Youth & Government District Conference. The YMCA’s Youth & Government is a national program of the YMCA that involves thousands of teens nationwide in state-organized model-government programs with a mission to help teenagers become responsible citizens and future leaders of our nation. It falls within our social responsibility focus area because we are charged with engaging youth to influence public policy around a range of social issues. This program has been a part of the YMCA’s rich history in Texas since 1946 and has had prestigious alumni such as the late former State Senator Ray Farabee (Wichita Falls), Zaverie Harris (Dallas) and Greg Hooser (Austin) all of which served as YMCA Texas Youth Governors and went on to have great careers in public policy.
This year we had over 2,300 students from both middle school and high school from across the state participate in this program. Over 1,700 students participated in six different YMCA Texas Youth & Government District Conferences. The Youth and Government program is very rigorous and in order to qualify to attend the State Conference, students must participate in Judicial, Legislative, Media, State Affairs Forum, as well as Model United Nations. Each of the events is spearheaded by student leaders with support from hundreds of volunteers interested in advocacy. Our volunteers help us to create an environment in which students can increase their political awareness and understanding, while learning the meaning of social action through an actual experience in government.
Taking it up a notch, next year, for the first time in Texas history two Youth and Government leaders from the Dallas and Fort Worth area will represent Texas in the Youth Advocate’s Program at Y-USA’s National Advocacy Days.