YMCA Youth National Assembly

Dear Students/Participants,

The Y has a long, proud history of encouraging participation in our nation’s democracy. Today, our Legislative and State Affairs Forum Students did just that as we kicked off our YMCA Texas Youth and Government Annual High School Conference.  

Early this month, many witnessed the storming of our U.S. Capitol an affront to this important work and our Y core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. We invite you to read the full statement from YMCA of the USA’s CEO, Kevin Washington about this event and the Y’s commitment to the democratic process.

Few generations of young Americans have faced as challenging a year as you have these last 12 months, and you have risen to meet each historical moment in ways that are only beginning to be recognized.

As we work to ensure that “democracy is learned by each generation,” and during our conference week, we are asking youth around the country to take part in 5 action items during the first weeks of the new year at

  1. Register for our virtual YMCA Youth National Assembly
  2. Sponsor the Educating for Democracy Act
  3. Read & Share the Roadmap to Engaging Youth Voice 
  4. Advance Youth Equity
  5. Apply for the Rise Initiative

Learn more and take action at: 


2021-01-23T21:34:32-06:00January 23rd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Youth and Government – Benefits for all

There is a held belief that Youth and Government is limited to those pursuing a career in politics. This weekend, over 500 students are showcasing their skills in the Texas State Conference. However, many delegates do not intend on pursuing a career in politics.
Delegates in Youth and Government claim they want to pursue a diverse range of careers beyond high school, such as hospitality, finance, and Animal Science. “I think the skills I have learned through Youth and Government will be helpful in pursuing my dream career of psychology and sociology.” Stated Joshua Lee

But the benefits of the program are not limited to the skills built while students are speaking. The preparation for competition also teaches critical thinking and research skills. “I have been in Legislative, Judicial, and State Affairs; all 3 of those sections within this program challenged me in different ways. Judicial namely had deep critical thinking skills, however, all sections do as well,” said Matthew Garcia from Duncanville High School. “To be successful in not only this program you’ll need critical thinking and research skills. I will be forever grateful for this program in not only teaching me those skills but making me find my passion with it.”

Delegates have also found that not only does debate teach useful academic skills, but also for life. “I think some life skills that this program teaches everyone is public speaking, which is something that will continue throughout high school, college, and into a professional career.” Stated State Affairs clerk Ainsley Burkes.

Other than teaching skills, Youth and Government allows you to take in other viewpoints according to delegates in State Affairs. There is a worry that when different people from various backgrounds meet, they won’t come to an understanding. “Through this program I’ve learned to be respectful of everyone’s viewpoints no matter how different they are,” said Jaalen Robinson from Duncanville High School. “I’ve done this by being open-minded and not just trying to argue with one another and actually listening to each point.”

These students acknowledge that committing to speech and debate offers a lifetime of benefits. Besides gaining knowledge in the governmental process, Youth and Government allows participants to develop oral and written communication skills, critical thinking skills and effective tools for research, organization and presentation. They agree that Youth and Government is beneficial for every future endeavor, not just political ones.

By: Jacqueline Chávez , Duncanville High School

2021-01-23T14:10:05-06:00January 23rd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

YG Delegate launches Proposal about Sex Education Classes

This Saturday during the State Affairs forum section, YG SAF Delegate David Wyatt launched a proposal on a rather interesting topic— teaching proper sexual education to adolescent students.

Delegate Wyatt proposed that the class will be taught to students from 7th grade up until the 10th grade.

Wyatt’s proposal also states that parents should also have the opportunity to opt their students out of the class, if parents are not comfortable with their children being taught about the topic within school.

The reason for his proposal is due to the fact that most schools that do teach Sex Ed only teach about abstinence, which in ineffective because most students still decide to engage sexual activities anyways. As a better solution to its ineffectiveness, he decided that it would be better to just teach more about practicing safe sex, as opposed to what was initially being taught.

Delegate Wyatt also mentioned that biology teachers should most likely be teaching this course, as biology teachers have the most knowledge about the human body of all teachers within the school already.

Also, in regards to the class, students and parents should receive an outline of the class as a whole, and what exactly will be taught in the program. Parents would receive a list of topics to talk to their child/children about incase they wanted to speak with them privately about the topic as well. He mentions this while elaborating on his proposal. “Teachers will provide a list of topics of which parents could speak to their children privately about the topic” said Delegate Wyatt.

As result many other Delegates thought delegate Wyatt’s proposal was a good idea as well.

For example fellow YG SAF Delegate Joshua Lee backs up Wyatt’s claims about what sex ed classes teach so he agreed with the idea to at least teach students to practice safe sex, whether they would choose to engage in sexual activities or not.

By: Erin Everette
2021-01-23T13:56:07-06:00January 23rd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Confidence is Key

Governor Candidate Kalea Roach Reflects on her Growth in the YAG Program


When Kalea Roach joined Youth and Government (YAG) five years ago, she could not have imagined that she would one day campaign for Governor. As a first-year Legislative delegate, Roach was intimidated and unsure of herself. However, as Roach gained experience, she began to surpass her own expectations. Years in Youth and Government helped build Roach’s self-confidence, and she is now proud to give back to the program.

“My confidence has grown tremendously since my first year, so much that I am about to literally be giving a speech to every other delegate at the conference,” Roach said. Although Roach did not start out

confidently in YAG, she held a consistent passion for government that drove her dedication.

Roach joined YAG after following her sister to a club practice and observing her first debate. “My sister had been in Legislative for several years, [so] I was attending YAG practice out of curiosity,” Roach said. “I remember everyone was debating back and forth, but no one was getting angry and it was all so cool and polite. I was like ‘I need to be in this program.’” Roach decided to enrol in a YAG Workshop, where she tried out the Legislative section for the first time. “I just knew that it was for me because I loved writing bills that [made] a difference,” Roach said. However, Roach soon discovered that debating at conferences was much more challenging than in practice.

“I was so overwhelmed my first year because I did not expect everyone to be that professional and intelligent,” Roach said. “I was that delegate that was hesitant to voice my views and opinions because I was so intimidated by everyone else.” Roach eventually realized that this was a universal experience for new delegates, and it was normal to struggle with a learning curve. As she continued to practice and attend more conferences, Roach witnessed a profound improvement in her skills. After a couple years, she felt confident enough to oversee Legislative proceedings as a Committee Chair and Clerk.

“Two years ago, my Chair and Clerk team was recognized as Distinguished Chair and Clerk,” Roach said. “It was a moment where I saw how much I had personally grown…and I was very excited about that achievement.” Placing at District gave Roach the confidence-boost needed to campaign for Speaker of Hyde House last year.

“I didn’t win Speaker, but I learned so much from the campaign process,” Roach said. When Roach first campaigned, she had the opportunity to walk up to delegates at the conference and introduce herself in person. However, she wished that she had taken advantage of this more. “I didn’t get to know enough people personally, which didn’t help my campaign,” Roach said. “So, I learned that I needed to be unapologetically myself [and] not hold back anything. I just needed to go for it.”

Despite the setback, Roach was not discouraged. The lessons that she learned from her previous campaign made her more prepared than ever to run as an at-large candidate. “I have always been inspired by the leaders and officers that we had in the past, and they really motivated me to keep trying and putting myself out there,” Roach said. “I decided to run for governor because…I want to represent the voices of delegates.” As someone who was once too afraid to speak up, Roach knew how important it was to advocate for other YAG participants. “I want to be that voice for others, someone [who] will listen and recognize problems and then be able to find solutions,” Roach said.

Throughout her time in Youth and Government, Roach has developed into a confident and effective communicator who embodies the qualities of a leader. She feels that her candidacy represents the culmination of her hard work and persistence over the years. “I never would have thought that my name would be on a ballot, but it shows how much I’ve grown,” Roach said. “My advice to first year members is that everybody starts off that way and it’s okay to feel nervous. But, you can stand up to voice your opinion. It is wanted and it needs to be heard… If you have the confidence to put yourself out there and be unapologetically yourself, it will pay off.”

By: Ava Motes

2021-01-23T13:41:04-06:00January 23rd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Effects of Youth and Government Post-graduation

The mission of Youth and Government is to, “Help teenagers become responsible citizens and future leaders of our nation.” Everything that takes place in the program stems from this ideal.

Youth and Government equips delegates with skills that can benefit them, not just while they participate in the program, but also throughout their lives.

Athena Bruess, a Youth and Government alumni currently attending the University of Pittsburgh, spoke about her experiences in the program and their influence on her current skill set.

“I know that I have the communication and critical thinking skills that will be essential for my future career… For example, due to the communication and public speaking skills that I learned through this program, I was able to successfully be a part of the tour guide program through my university.”

Additionally, according to former Chief Justice of Texas Youth and Government Sebastiane Cab alles, YG opens doors to networking opportunities and life-long friendships.

“I cannot count the amount of lasting friendships and connections that have come through youth and government. YG has allowed me to be surrounded by so many incredible people. These are people that both I look to for advice and come to me for advice as well. Beyond the awards and accolades, youth and government has blessed me with an amazing commun ity of individuals that I can look to for support and encouragement.”

Both Bruess and Caballes expressed their appreciation for the program, and that overall, they wouldn’t be who they are or where they are today without their involvement in YG.

Alumni continuously come back and volunteer once they have graduated high school to be a part of other delegate’s experiences and have a positive impact on the program in the same way many people did for them.

By: Jamie Bowers Oak Cliff Delegation

2021-01-23T13:35:42-06:00January 23rd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Youth & Government Media is Going Virtual

Media delegates at the 2021 Texas Youth & Government State Conference will be taking a different approach to news gathering due to Covid-19 restrictions. Students will employ a variety of multimedia techniques and platforms to connect with YG peers and deliver relevant, interesting content. Stay tuned here throughout the next two weeks for the big stories, or visit our other platforms.




2021-01-22T16:27:27-06:00January 22nd, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Texas YG is Going Virtual

Welcome to the 2020-2021 program cycle! We hope you have been able to maintain healthy mind, body and spirit considering the many COVID-19 challenges we have all experienced. As we settle into this new normal, the decision has been made, with guidance from YMCA’s, the State YG Board, the CDC and other leading health officials, to offer Texas Youth and Government virtually. This means that both District and State Conferences will be virtual.

After months of observing, participating and hosting virtual events, we are excited to plan a meaningful program aligned with our mission. The virtual setting does allow for us to connect with you more often and to engage with you in various events like, hosted Town Halls, leadership trainings, combined club meetings, section trainings, and Q&A sessions. Additionally, for our High School Program, we may be able to offer separate Legislative and Judicial Conferences in a virtual setting, providing students the opportunity to participate in both sections, expanding their YG skills.

Club meetings may be in-person, virtual, or a hybrid dependent upon your District and community health and safety guidelines, but there are still many questions. What will club meetings look like? What happens to my club if a Club Advisor is not available or has less availability? What support will the Y provide? How can I participate if my YG Club is no longer active? Who is my YMCA contact?

To help answer the above questions and gain a better understanding of your needs this year, please complete the Student Survey by September 14, 2020.

Individual registration (for advisors, Y staff, and students) will open by the second week of September. A registration link will be available on our website for new participants. If you are a returning participant, an email will be sent out with your unique program ID. Program material is being updated when applicable for virtual events, such as debate timing for Legislative and State Affairs. The Mock Trial case summary will soon be available on our website as well as other judicial material.

Though Texas YG may face different challenges this program year, we look forward to working and adapting with you and embracing new opportunities together. If you need to reach out to your District Director, you can find their contact information on our website here. You may also contact the State Office at [email protected] with any other questions.

2020-08-21T17:17:33-05:00August 21st, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Congratulations to a Super Star Teacher!

Elizabeth Storm from Bishop Lynch High School was recently named the 2020 Law Related Education Teacher of the Year! This prestigious award is given annually by the Texas Lawyers Auxiliary to celebrate the accomplishments of teachers who have made significant contributions in the area of Law Related Education. Besides a recognition certificate, the award carries a $1,000 gift to show the deep appreciation the Texas Lawyers Auxiliary has for Storm and the work she does. Storm embodies the purpose of Youth and Government and teaches her students about democracy and how not to lose faith in government. We are lucky to have her in our program and working with our students!

2020-07-31T19:11:18-05:00July 31st, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Celebrating a Teacher Extraordinaire!

We already know that the teachers in Texas YG are the best educators in the state. However, it is always exciting to see our teachers receive recognition elsewhere. Armin Salek, the club advisor at Akins High School, is a standout teacher in the Austin District and successfully led two judicial teams to 5th and 2nd place at the 2020 State Conference. Salek is also a renowned teacher outside of YG. In April, Austin ISD named Salek Teacher of the Year for 2020. In addition, Salek was recently awarded the Rather Prize, an award given to the student, teacher, or administrator with the best idea on how to improve education in Texas. You can watch a video here and here to learn more about the Rather Prize and Salek’s ideas to improve education.

Congratulations to Salek on all of your achievements! We are lucky to have you as a member of the Texas YG family!

2020-07-08T17:44:01-05:00July 8th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

CONA Leaders and Award Receipents

This was a challenging week for our 22 delegates that participated in CONA 2020 on a new virtual platform. Despite the many unexpected difficulties that our delegates face, Texas showed up strong at CONA this year. We would like to congratulate the members of the Texas YG family that served in leadership roles this week and celebrate the recipients of various awards.

First, congrats to Timothy Sinnott, member of the Texas State YG Board of Management and recipient of the 2020 Paul Grist Award.

The following delegates served in a leadership position at CONA 2020:

  • Aayush Dave as Presiding Officer
  • Tadiwa Mujokoto as Conference Life Committee Member and Proposal Sharing Group Leader
  • Alex Searles as Round Table Chair Leader
  • Vivienne Garner as Proposal Sharing Group Leader
  • Alyssa Mills as Proposal Sharing Group Leader
  • Madison Dillon as Committee Chair
  • Mikayla Pastrano as Committee Chair

Congratulations to Athvait Manikantan, Alyssa Mills, Mikayla Pastrano, and Chase Patterson. Their proposals made it to General Assembly. Mills, Pastrano, and Patterson’s proposals were passed in their respective assemblies.

Finally, congratulations to Garner and Sam Mills for earning Distinguished Delegate.

Overall, all 22 students did an excellent job representing Texas at CONA 2020. Many of our delegates spoke out in committees, Grand Assembly, and Plenary and delivered excellent and well thought out intent speeches and pro and con points. However, what truly made this group of delegates special was the amount of compassion and kindness they showed to one another and to the delegates from other states and their commitment to the YMCA Core Values. All of our delegates from Texas helped made CONA 2020 a success and congratulations to all of them for their hard work and participation this past week.

2020-07-09T09:51:01-05:00July 2nd, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments