Program Registration and Program Materials Goes Live September 1st!


Governor Hopeful Believes Preparation for YAG Leads to Success

By Alanis Rodriguez,
Chisolm Trail High School

Students spend hours preparing for the Youth and Government State Conference. These moments are spent practicing, seeking advice, and considering endless possibilities in court or on the floor. While some go to the conference to hang out with friends and see the sights, others want to impress evaluators so that they can the most points. Whatever the reason might be, the delegates and candidates must prepare for the four-day conference in a variety of ways.

In the Judicial branch, witnesses are played and studied by students, which are then polished with the help of the attorneys. “I like to say we can’t have good attorneys if we don’t have good witnesses,” says Danika Maddox, who defended Arlo Key in the windshield murderer case. “We like to, at least once a practice, take our witnesses and either run through their questions or talk about how they’re going to answer them,” she said. By working in tandem, the witnesses and attorneys can create an effective argument that can get the defendant out of years of imprisonment. Meanwhile, the students who play as these witnesses have to understand their characters and research any other information that might come up in court.
Gavin Brooks, who played the medical examiner in the windshield murderer case, says, “you also have to have a lot of background knowledge on the scientific terms that are used,” and that you have to “understand them so then you don’t get frozen” on the witness stand. These two groups must work together to appeal to the judge and eventually reach the verdict that they worked hard for.

Along with the delegates, candidates running for next year’s positions must prepare their platforms and hone their campaigning skills to get the attention of students. Ryan Lee, a junior running for Governor, says that he has been “consulting other states and other governors” and “brainstorming, asking other delegates” to assist in creating his platforms. He has three platforms: 1) More Youth and Government events for practice opportunities; 2) A peer group system to give personalized feedback, and 3) To localize the Youth Advocate Program so that it is accessible to more students.

“I’ve already consulted other places like Washington, DC, and California, and they already have this thing in place, and all I’m going to do is reflect their own process and put it on to Texas,” said Lee when asked about the localization of the last program. As someone who is running for governor, Lee will need to talk to many students in the program in order to get their votes. “Since district, every weekend I’ve been setting at least three to four hours, developing speeches, developing ideas, and reaching out to other people,” he explained when asked about how long he has been preparing for his campaign. As seen above, candidates like Lee have spent hours of dedication to perfect their skills and platforms to hopefully get the votes of their fellow peers.

Cardenas’ SAF Proposal Seeks to Help Convicted Felons After Incarceration

By Lilly Salcedo,
Duncanville High School

State Affairs Forum is a group of scholars who present proposals to the committee room to fight for what they think is best to improve the nation, one proposal at a time. These delegate students see the ideas presented and collaborate on how the idea can be implemented efficiently or if it should be implemented at all. 

Daniela Cardenas from Oak Cliff YMCA presented an idea discussing the second chances of prisoners who served their time. Once these people obtain their freedom, they face significant discrimination because of their background. This mainly affects their professional career like wage and simple lack of opportunity to be hired. Having these individuals back in the workforce would not only help stimulate the ever rocky economy but help these individuals have a second chance. 

This proposal not only focuses on post prisoners but also expands on younger citizens struggling to find jobs due to lack of experience. This helps young citizens begin to have a chance and to call something their own. Having a job is a very important stepping stone in one’s life because being an employee is essentially taking care of yourself since one finally has the funds to do so. 

The basis of this proposal is to not just focus on prisoners who have paid what they owe through time, but to focus on the demography of people that are unemployed like the impoverished as well. While this issue can be very delicate to handle, the basis of giving more jobs to the unemployed is maintained throughout the argument. 

The State Affairs Forum helps young students like Daniela put concepts like these into question so our society can become more fair and perspective of everyone’s situation. This group produces delegates facing their fears of speaking out as practice for their adulthood responsibilities. This subsection of the Youth and Government helps these young delegates in the best sense so that they can prosper in their own paths when they become individual adults.

Oak Cliff YMCA delegate Daniela Cardenas introduced a State Affairs proposal to help people integrate into society after incarceration.

What Happens in the Courtroom…

By Abigail Zylka,
Duncanville High School

The first thing that happens in the courtroom, once everyone gets seated, is the explanation of the rules.

The judge will have different rules depending on who is in charge. They are roughly the same every time, typically about eating and drinking and when you can approach the bench.

The prosecution and the defense will start by making their opening statements. The prosecution will talk about why the defense is guilty, and the defense will talk about how the defendant is not guilty. The prosecution will then bring a witness to the stand to ask questions about the case at hand. Then the defense will also question the witness.

Both defense and prosecution ask questions to help further prove their reasoning on whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. Once both sides have finished asking questions, the prosecution will call up two more witnesses and cross examine them.

Then the defense will call up three different witnesses to the stand so they can be cross-examined. During the cross-examination, exchanges can get very interesting, listening to both sides object to one another and going back and forth with each other.

Once all of the witnesses have been interviewed, the defense and the prosecution will make their closing statements. The closing statements attempt to persuade the judge to be on their side.

Once the closing statements have been made, the prosecution and defense will have one last time to prove their case by stating their rebuttal to the judge. The rebuttal will be something short based on the opposing team’s closing statement. The judge will then step out of the courtroom to make their final decision on whether the defendant is guilty or not. The advisor in the room will then give feedback to both opposing sides to help them understand what they did well and where they can improve.

Third Party Governor Candidates Fight an Uphill Battle

As the 2022 race for Texas governor tightens, virtually all citizens and news outlets are focused on the two major candidates: Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott, or his Democratic challenger, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

This is hardly surprising. Every Texas governor (and nearly every prominent US politician) since the 1860s has been either a Republican or Democrat. In most cases, they are seen as the only viable candidates, or at least the only ones with any chance of winning.

But often left out of the bigger conversation are the many third party candidates. Be it because of their often more radical ideals, their history of low support, or not having the backing of a major party, most of these campaigns are quiet, with many voters not even knowing the candidates until seeing them on the ballot.

In the 2022 election, the big third party gubernatorial candidates are Libertarian nominee Mark Tippetts and Green Party candidate Delilah Barrios. Neither party has ever elected a governor in any state.

Tippetts, a Lago Vista city councilman and the 2018 Libertarian governor candidate, holds close to the party’s ultra-conservative views, in his words the “maximum protection of the rights of all people against any violation”. This includes reformed immigration policy, cutting taxes, and lower restrictions on marijuana and 2nd amendment rights. The Green Party candidate, Delilah Barrios, lands on the opposite side of the political spectrum. A surgical technician and working class mom, she advocates for social and income equality, healthcare access, and environmental justice, in line with her party’s liberal attitude.

Thus far, Tippetts has made a slightly bigger push for the office, with more financial support, media coverage, and a web store. However, that won’t seem to matter. In a recent UT Austin poll, both received 2% support, far behind Abbott’s 45% and O’Rourke’s 40%.

In addition, neither third party candidates were invited to the sole gubernatorial debate in September.

While most Americans today stick to the traditional Republican v. Democrat format, third party candidates have a better chance to shake up the landscape with a new, informed generation of young voters.

Forms response chart. Question title: Which of the main Texas governor candidates have you heard of/were familiar with prior to this poll?. Number of responses: 12 responses.

In a poll of Texas YMCA Youth and Government students, none were familiar with the major third party candidates.

Written by Connor Whitecotton – Perry YMCA Onsite Club

2022-10-18T12:32:36-05:00October 18th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Behind Brian Kang

“It’s different, I’m going off of zoom from last year, it feels so different,” current Chief Justice Brian Kang explained as he looked around the hotel lobby. “Seeing everyone, seeing people argue, not seeing people on the screen.” After the virtual meetings and conferences due to COVID-19, Kang looks forward to seeing faces that aren’t on a screen, and remembering the experiences he had just a few years ago in the same hotel. He was introduced to the Youth and Government program through an alumni in his school. He is part of a law program at his school, and was encouraged by a previous Chief Justice to join the club. Kang chose to join the trial court as an attorney in the appellate section, and was nervous for what would lie ahead.

  As a freshman, Kang was surrounded by polished and experienced upperclassmen in trial court. He recalls his first day in district conference: “I think after the first day I met up with my people, I started crying, and I was overwhelmed with a lot of stuff.” He felt the pressure to be just as good, if not better, than the people around him.” At that point in time, I realized that I had a lot of room for improvement,” and that pushed him to become the Chief Justice he is today. His trial court in his freshman year also helped him grow the skills he needed, preparing him and encouraging him to do his best at state. Ultimately, he hopes that his experience in the Youth and Government program will fuel his future career as a lawyer.

 This year, Kang has had the chance to see his brother participate in the same position he had as a freshman. “It’s weird to see him grow up,” he admits. “I don’t know what he wants to do in the future, if he’ll do this next year. But I support him in what he does.” Overall, he is proud of all the freshman teams. “I feel like with COVID-19, a lot of people took the time to really prepare.” And with this year’s state conference being delayed, people had more time to polish their skills. In the long run, Kang appreciates what he has learned from this program, and, most importantly, the people he has met. “I think this conference is really about the people that we’re with and the connections that we build, instead of what the program actually offers,” he fondly asserted. 

Written by: Alanis Rodriguez

2022-04-23T16:06:44-05:00April 23rd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Welcome to the Capitol

As you walk through the towering wooden doors of the entrance to the Texas State Capitol, and make your way into the grand foyer looking up in awe, of the dome reaching into the sky, you may feel excitement, pride, and a little bit overwhelmed. This weekend, April 21-24, 2022, student delegates participating in a variety of programs in Texas Youth and Government at the 75th YMCA Texas Youth and Government State Conference in the capitol building in Austin, Texas, felt this. 

Onward and upward, the student delegates view the dome of the Capitol building from the ground floor. 

Continuing to make your way down the Capitol halls, you see the student delegates in the judicial section debating in mock trial, student legislators proposing bills or joint resolutions for passing in the House and Senate chambers, the State Affairs Forum raising solutions to current issues, the governor’s cabinet and lobbyists working with the Youth Governor to lobby for bills or issues, and the media students documenting it all. 

While many delegates love the State Conference, it can be a daunting experience for many first timers. Amarys Rodriguez and Hannah Robles, both from Sanders Law Magnet at Townview, described their first impressions of the conference in the Capitol to be “overwhelming and huge”. Robles adds, “I got lost for a long time. I almost started crying.”

This is Rodriguez’s and Robles’s first time being in person for the state conference since last year’s conference was online due to the spread of COVID-19. While they struggled with the overwhelming aspect of the conference at the Capitol, when asked about their overall experience with the State Conference Amarys said, “I loved it. I really hope to be back next year.” Robles continued by saying, “I’m glad this conference was postponed so we can do it in person.” 

Rodriguez and Robles both recommended for any of the first time delegates to: “Carry a map, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Stick with someone who has been to State before.” They concluded with, “The system in place by the YG definitely makes it more enjoyable.” 

For first time delegates, while the State Conference may be challenging, the experience is rewarding. By the end of the Conference, delegates have grown in ways not possible in the average school day setting.

Written by: Kristen Henderson

2022-04-23T15:50:28-05:00April 23rd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Moral Prostitution

4,421 years ago, around 2400 BCE, the concept of prostitution was first recorded on Ancient Summerian tablets believed to have listed  the various roles of the cult of Inanna, a Summerian deity associated with love. Following its early conceptualization, prostitution has endured the test of time and remains part of modern day society. Disregarding the persistence of sex work, todays policies have illegalized prostitution and has labelled it as filthy and demoralizing. Young legislator Zoe Constanza, convinced that prostitution has been handled unreasonably, has written a bill proposing the legalization and regulation of prostitution. Shocking Constanza, her approach has been accepted by many in the House of Representatives (HR).

Sex work is often blamed for the spread of STDs, for the destruction of marriages, and for the abandonment of morality. Zoe Constanza, however, argues that it is immoral to illegalize prostitution, “Sex work may be immoral, but the fact that it’s never going to end is more important. It’s called the oldest profession for a reason, it will always exist. So we should make sure its safe for the people that partake, particularly prostitutes which are fourty times more likely to be murdered than the average American.” She’s determined that through the protection of the law and regulation, prostitution can become a safe and healthy profession. Furthermore, the regulation of sex work, Zoey says, could potentially become a way to combat human trafficking.

Ian Bock, another legislator in the HR, though deeply impressed by Constanza’s competence and bill, isn’t convinced that her bill will do away with the dangers of prostitution. “All this bill did was give legalization for brothels,” said Bock, “ and it only decriminalized all sex work, so there will no longer be patrols out making sure that minors aren’t participating in sex work and being abused.” Bock, instead, calls for various amendments to this bill. These include constant vigilance over sex work and consistent testing for STDs.

For the longest of time, sex work has often required for prostitutes to sell their body away, introducing various moral problems. However, policy should be there to keep the people as safe and prosperous as possible. Whilst Constanza attempts to achieve this for sex workers, this is a complex issue that requires complex solutions. We can only hope that legislators keep building upon Constanza’s initial effort.

HR legislator, Theodore Vance, inquiring about the bill in question, consumed by the tabooness of the subject and ready to interact with what seems to be a revolutionary idea.

Written by: Luis Fuentes

2022-04-23T15:43:37-05:00April 23rd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Youth and Government Making a Change

The Texas YMCA Youth and Government (YG) program came to be 86 years ago. It was founded in New York by Clement Duran. The motto of the program is “Democracy must be learned by each generation,” which was said by Earl T. Hawkins who established the Maryland Youth and Government. YG is an important step in learning about policies and government. It’s crucial for the younger generation to know about the world around them and how it operates, not only for their sake but for the sake of their families and their future children and grandchildren. 

YG teaches the new generations about democracy and makes them able to understand the many different features of the U.S. Government. For example, there are six different sections to choose from: Legislative, Judicial, Media, State Affairs, Governor’s Cabinet, Lobbyist, and Candidates. Students in YG are ecstatic to have an opportunity to learn about the divergent aspects of government. Delegate Cooper Baldwin, from the Austin delegation, says, “I have been a part of YG since I was a junior, but I have already learned so much just by participating and learning about the ideas that I would have never thought of. I believe it is important to be able to think outside of the box in how you could make the world a better place starting with making better policies. I would say that YG is helping build a better future for the new generations by preparing so many people that want to be included in politics and government.”

 Change starts with policies. In order to know how to make a change, you would need to have an idea of how the government works because putting policies in order is the only way to get change. Even if someone did not want to have a career in government, they should still know how it works and how important it is to be involved. Although some kids here aren’t able to do their part by voting, they are doing their part by being a part of YG and learning how the government systems work. Simone Moton, from the Austin delegation, says, “Although I am not a part of the actual government part of the conference, I am still learning so much about the way things work and just being able to listen to people talk about their bills and hearing about the trials and the way they work is so amazing. I love being able to interview people about things because I am more interested in the media part. I think that may be one of the most important roles in society because that is how Americans and people around the world get their information about what is going on.” YG students from media to legislation are happy to learn about all sides of the process in order to better the world. 

Youth and Government is a program that is there to help the youth because knowing about the government is one of the most important things to do. The program also offers Media so students can gain skills reporting and know what the job of the media is truly like. The YG government is an important step in learning about the government and its policies for youth all over the nation. The Texas YMCA Youth and Government is making the world a better place by making the youth better people.

Written by: Devan Hodges

2022-04-23T15:29:33-05:00April 23rd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Case for HB038

Mental health is a growing problem in America, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these concerns. According to Michigan University, anxiety and depression in teens have increased by as much as 36% and 31%, respectively, since the beginning of the pandemic. And in December of 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy even went as far as to issue an advisory on America’s “youth mental health crisis”. In his advisory, Murthy urged individuals, families, community organizations, and companies to step in whatever way they could to improve the mental health of teens. 

However, despite this warning from the Surgeon General himself, the majority of schools have changed little about the way they operate to better support the students they are meant to serve. House bill 38 (HB038) attempts to change this. HB038 proposes that schools be required to provide students with three excused “mental health” days off from school per month. These days would give students a chance to de-stress during periods of high anxiety or when they are struggling with other mental health concerns.

Mental health days are not a cure-all to long-term mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety, but studies have shown that they can still have a significant positive impact on students. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 93% of managers surveyed report that taking time off increased employee motivation. Although this survey was conducted in workplaces, not schools, students would likely also experience this increase in motivation after taking time off during a “mental health day,” due to the similar nature of both of these institutions. Additionally, a 2020 survey by Mental Health America found that nearly 50% of teens would like to learn how to care for their own mental health needs. Learning when to take time off from school or work to prioritize your own well-being would help teens learn to care for themselves and give them coping skills they can use once they graduate high school or college. 

 A law that gives students the right to take days off for mental concerns is not a new, or even unpopular, idea. According to the New York Times, nine states have passed laws that give students time off for mental health issues in the last two years alone. And according to a Harris Poll conducted in 2020, 78% of students believe that teenagers need mental health days in order to take care of themselves. Mental Health America even reports that more than half of teenagers believe that a break from school is the action that would have the greatest positive impact on their mental health.  

Lastly, having mental health days be a legitimate part of school attendance policies would validate students struggling with anxiety and depression, as well as destigmatize taking time off to care for yourself. In a culture where it can be seen as a badge of honor to restrict your sleep and sacrifice your health for grades, encouraging students to take days off could grant permission to teenagers who might not feel comfortable missing school otherwise.

Of course, there is always a risk that teenagers who miss school will fall behind, but experts argue that teenagers cannot take in the things they are learning in school if they are dealing with a mental health condition anyway. And overall, the potential benefits of mental health days outweigh the potential downsides– improved well-being is worth the annoyance of a missed math test or late homework assignment. House bill 38 effectively addresses teenage mental health and could have the ability to significantly lower anxiety and depression in high schoolers. If government officials really care about the well-being of their constituents, then they must pass this bill and give students the right to prioritize their health. 

Written by: Delia Rune

2022-04-23T15:16:12-05:00April 23rd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Flair and Fashion of Texas YG

The Texas YMCA Youth and Government program has a long and sophisticated history, extending over 7 decades prior to today and including thousands of students. Because of its highly respected past and the professional environment of the organization, a strict dress code is required for all students to follow. Through the artistic lens of the YMCA guidelines, many students take the opportunity to express their unique, creative styles and aesthetics through the way they dress. 

The dress code, called for by the YMCA, describes a professional, neutral outfit meant to portray the sincerity and professionalism of the Youth and Government conferences. Despite the supposed similarities of dress between students, they actually tend to differentiate often. 

Many suits are specially tailored in their own way, and jackets often show as a dark blue, green, red, or more. Shirts worn under blazers and coats are typically very different in their designs, showing threaded motifs and patterns, buttons and pockets, and all in every color of the rainbow. Students wear shiny or suede shoes and classy loafers, along with all kinds of heels, flats, or pumps. 

And not only outfits influence the radiant confidence these students manifest; hair and makeup, accessories, even the bags and briefcases holding propositions and notes accentuate each and every student’s individual ensembles. Here are a few Youth and Government participants explaining their choice of outfit and what it means to them. 

Ryder Trent, of Broadcast Media, is wearing gray pants, a classy purple button-up dress shirt, and unique diamond-patterned socks. He asserts, “(This outfit) makes me feel confident in myself and my ability to do my job.” Confidence in yourself is essential to Youth and Government as a whole, especially at the Texas Capitol, in which every student is challenged to present multiple projects, pieces or presentations over a few days. Being optimistic and secure in the way you represent yourself, your faction, and your school will always help your skills for Youth and Government organizations. 

Pictured above is freshman broadcast media delegate Ryder Trent.

Evan Lee, the Social Media Editor in Chief, wears a deep indigo-blue suit which stands out against the black-suited crowd. He explains, ¨Being a part of Youth and Government for 7 years makes outfits seem repetitive… I wear different clothes to stand out.¨ Lee spoke of how he once wore an outfit combining baby blue and pale pink, which made him recognizable to others.  This expression combines composure and confidence, two necessary mindsets to have at Youth and Government conferences. Being able to be easily distinguishable from within a large group can help with the way others perceive you. Along with implementing the style you enjoy into your professional way of dress, your confidence at Youth and Government, and your recognizable look can immensely help the way you conduct yourself and the image you project in trial, debate, or interviews. 

Social Media State Officer Evan Lee showing off his Sean John indigo-blue suit. 


Zoe Costanza, a House of Representative Delegate, wears a lightly checkered black-and-white blazer over a sharp black minidress and platform block heels. She says, “How’s a delegate supposed to girlboss without heels?” Her outfits show her creativity in her professional appearance by applying the clothes and aesthetics she likes into the diligent courthouse dress code. This kind of expression combines personal interests with public rule. What many people find beneficial in Youth and Government conferences is assimilating familiar aesthetics into the YMCA dress code, which, especially to newcomers, can seem stressful, strict, or plain. Being able to wear something you enjoy wearing, while still adhering to the proper dress code guidelines, is a fantastic source of self-assurance, comfort, and certainty of one’s own abilities in a court setting.

No matter what you choose to wear at Youth and Government, your ever-present unique and artistic touches to your outfits and appearance can all help your overall productivity, confidence, and happiness. Always have fun with your style in Youth and Government!

Written by: Abigail Adams

2022-04-23T14:53:26-05:00April 23rd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments
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