The YG Officers on the U.S. Constiution: Part 2

As we said in the beginning of the week, we talked to our officers and asked them about what the U.S. Constitution means to them. We received some thoughtful and incredible responses and we will continue to share them with you throughout our Constitution Day Fundraiser. Read about our Chief Justice Sebastiane Caballes ’20 and our State Affairs Form Chair Nikash Harapanahalli ’20. And be sure to check out our donate page here to see how you contribute to our program!

Chief Justice Sebastiane Caballes ’20

How long have you been participating in YG? 5 years.

What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am excited to make new memories.

What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite memory in YG is when I was campaigning for Chief Justice. I had so much support from the friends I have in the program and was able to meet so many new delegates throughout the process. It is something that I will always look back on fondly.

How has YG impacted you? YG has pushed me to understand and apply different methods of leadership. The program has so many different facets from being an attorney, a legislator, to leading a club. What sticks to me the most from YG is the people that I have met. Their unique stories and views open my eyes to new perspectives.

What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? To me, the U.S. Constitution represents the essence of American values. We are unlike any other nation in that we are not a country founded by a single ethnic or cultural group. The U.S. Constitution does not discriminate based on the color of your skin or the religion you practice, it protects all Americans equally under the law. It is this idea of equality under the law that resonates with me the most. Our nation was built upon the idea that discourse would not divide America, it would unite us. Just because not all Americans share the same political views or beliefs does not mean that one group is right and the other is wrong. Rather, it is this diversity in ideas and people that strengthen and makes America great. The U.S. Constitution stands as a stalwart against authoritarian regimes across the world and represents the freedom and liberty that we hold dear in the United States.

State Affairs Form Chair Nikash Harapanahalli ’20

How long have you been participating in YG? 6 years.

What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am excited to be able to make change at the state level!

What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite memory in YG is when I face-planted as I ran to get my proponent slip in for a bill in Joint Session at the State Conference.

How has YG impacted you? YG is without a doubt a foundation of my modern sense of what civic and national duty are. YG’s emphasis on collaboration, servant leadership, and democratic participation have redefined what being a patriot is to me. Furthermore, the communication skills that I picked up have reinforced notions that through open dialogue, our mutual understanding of global citizenship can be rejuvenated and extended.

What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? The U.S. Constitution is by no means perfect, but it has provided all people yearning for equity, freedom, and democracy a functional template from which to forge a new form of state. The U.S. Constitution reimagined statecraft and has set the foundation for the current notions of liberal democracy. It has laid precedent that synthesizes humanity with governance by affording equity to everyone born on American soil. That combination is at the heart of the U.S. Constitution – applying our empathy to all human beings through a compassionate state. This does not mean that the U.S. Constitution calls for the imparting of morals, beliefs, or religious ideals onto a population but rather that Americans are called to see the world through a compassionate lens. The U.S. Constitution’s emphasis on inalienable fraternity between all is something I will always carry with me because it inspires a social consciousness that only seeks to improve the world around it.

2019-09-19T15:10:09-05:00September 20th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Happy Constitution Day!

Happy Constitution Day everyone! The U.S. Constitution turns 232 years today and what better way to celebrate than donating to our Constitution Day fundraiser? You can donate anytime at this link here.

On May 25, 1787, delegates from all thirteen states gathered to form the Constitutional Convention and to discuss creating a new form of government. James Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, wrote a draft that he proposed at the beginning of the convention. The men of the convention would then spend the next four months debating over the document and making edits to it. And then, on September 15, 1787, a final version was agreed upon and Jacob Shallus wrote out the final product.

Then on this day in 1787, thirty nine delegates from the Constitutional Convention gathered at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA. Starting with George Washington, they gathered in a line and signed a new and revolutionary document that would determine the structure of the American government. The U.S. Constitution was then submitted to the states for ratification. It wasn’t until nearly a year later, on June 21, 1788, that New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, making the document official and valid.

Some people thought the U.S. Constitution may only last 100 or 150 years. However, 232 years later it is still the backbone of our democracy. We asked our students what they thought about the U.S. Constitution and have been posting some of their responses which you can see in our recent blog posts. Below, you can see a fun fact about the U.S. Constitution that was given to us by a student. Be sure to contribute to our fundraiser and enjoy your Constitution Day!


“Jacob Shallus, the man that was paid to write the official copy of the U.S. Constitution, was paid $30.00 for his services. Today, that translates to $810.81.” – Charis Maxwell ’20, Fort Worth District

2019-09-13T15:05:46-05:00September 17th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The YG Officers on the U.S. Constitution: Part 1

We asked our new officers for the 2019-2020 program year what they thought of the U.S. Constitution. Over the next couple of weeks, we will share those answers with you, as well as some other fun information about our officers! Below you can read about Attorney General London Jones ’21 and Broadcast Producer Amy Ekechukwu ’20. And don’t forget to go here to donate to our fundraiser!

Attorney General London Jones ’21

How long have you been participating in YG? 3 years.

What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am most excited to lead the judicial section and change some things for the better. This upcoming year will be my junior year, and my first year in a leadership position and I hope to make the best of it!

What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite YG memory would have to be this past state conference. It was a very different experience to attend the conference as a candidate versus one of the trial court attorneys. I loved campaigning, meeting new people, and getting my name out there. It was hard work, but in the end it was worth it.

How has YG impacted you? YG has impacted me in so many different ways. It has opened me up to so many different people, encouraged me to think beyond myself, and take part in a competitive but loving environment alongside individuals with similar interests. I know getting involved with government policy at such a young age will help shape me into an adult who is very aware of the world we live in.

What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? Given that I am African American, my ancestors were slaves. When the U.S. Constitution was made, nothing in it paid any regard to my people, women, or anyone who wasn’t a white male land-owner. Even with this troubled past, America took measures to improve itself. The U.S. Constitution means to me that America is continuing to hold itself up to a higher standard than ever before and living up to the name “Land of the Free.”

Broadcast Producer Amy Ekechukwu ’20

How long have you participated in YG? 2 years.

What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am excited to work with the delegates and help them become better writers.

What is your favorite YG memory? Being able to experience the world of broadcasting.

How has YG impacted you? I love that YG has good core values to go along with the program’s name. I also love how it allows kids to express themselves in a creative manner.

What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? The U.S. Constitution is important because it sets aside a list of laws for citizen’s safety (The Bill of Rights). Without these set of rules, we wouldn’t have a safe place to call home.

2019-09-19T13:41:24-05:00September 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The U.S. Constitution: What does it mean to Students?

As we said in our previous post, the U.S. Constitution is important to Texas Youth and Government for a wide variety of reasons. It lays out the framework for the program’s government and allows our media students to execerise their First Amendment rights.

We asked some of our student leaders to reflect on what the U.S. Constitution means to them. See below for their responses and don’t forget to donate here to our fundraiser!


“God give, hand written, and people driven.”

I believe this saying encompasses the essence of the Constitution. At it’s core, the constituting document of our great nation is a series of God granted rights that every human should have. Secondly, it was conceived and written by great leaders who used their knowledge of history to solve future issues. Lastly, the Constitution is not a tool of government to control the people, but a tool ordained by the people to protect the people from the government. – Griffin ’21, Fort Worth District


Our Founding Fathers put a lot on the line for our freedom. The fact that Americans have a historical document that holds true to modern day culture is priceless. The Bill of Rights is something I believe every citizen should hold dear. Other countries fight for the democracy and freedoms that Americans often take for granted. Our undeniable rights are those that our Funding Fathers fought for at a hefty cost.

To me, the Constitution has been an inspiration for my time with the YMCA Texas Youth and Government program. It is a document that helps Americans hold their own in a world where originality is sometimes limited. It allows us to live unchained from the bonds that held us in history, and stands as a reminder for our nation’s ideals. It gives us the rights to voice our opinions and the privilege to make a difference in our nation through our right to vote. – Mikayla Pastrano ’21, Austin District

2019-09-13T10:28:13-05:00September 13th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Constitution Day Fundraiser Kick-Off!

The U.S. Constitution is the foundation of our Texas Youth and Government Program, as we strive to teach our students the inter working aspects of our legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Our Texas YG students not only study our governmental process outlined by the Constitution, they also serve as elected officials, judges, attorneys, lobbyists, and legislators. Additionally, our media students are able to exercise their First Amendment freedoms, granted in the Bill of Rights, with coverage of other delegates’ activities.

On behalf of the Texas YG state office, we ask you to join us in supporting our students in the spirit of Constitution Day through our fundraising campaign. This year the fundraiser takes place from September 11th to September 27th. Please visit our donate page here to select your level of contribution to our valuable Texas YG program. Our festive donation levels will leave you feeling as official as our Constitutional Delegates.

2019-09-10T14:37:35-05:00September 11th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Whata CONA!

The 2019 Conference on National Affairs Texas delegation wishes all of you a belated happy Independence Day!  An outstanding group of 24 students from the Houston, Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth Districts represented Texas (and its signature fast food restaurant!) with skill and grace at this annual YMCA national youth event.  Clad in Whataburger-themed t-shirts, Texas delegates came to CONA to present their proposals describing social problems and outlining related solutions.  This year, students addressed everything from trade unions to mental healthcare in juvenile detention to firearm policy to cybersecurity.  They initially shared their proposals with and received feedback from other delegates from other states during Proposal Sharing Groups Saturday night.

On Sunday, delegates participated in the CONA Opening Ceremony and began First Committee Hearings.  During each round of Committee Hearings, delegates debate and consider the pros and cons of their own and other delegates’ proposals, offering amendments to proposals in line with parliamentary procedure.  After delegates score each other’s proposals, a specified number of the highest scoring proposals from each Committee Hearing advance to the next round.  All delegates gather on the final day of CONA, the Fourth of July this year, to discuss the 12 highest-ranked proposals in a Plenary Session.  20 other very highly ranked proposals move on to the similarly prestigious General Assemblies.  This year, Aayush Dave’s proposal “to increase employment opportunities for ex-convict re-integration into society” was among them!

Texas YG is also celebrating all our delegates whose proposals advanced throughout the week of CONA.  Nine students had proposals move to Second Committee Hearings after First Committee Hearings concluded Monday!  Congratulations to Aayush, Chase Patterson, Nikash Harapanahalli, Alysha Orbach, Alyssa Mills, Kate Schulle, Amaris-Lynn Joubert, Peyton Childs, and Vivienne Garner.  Vivienne, Aayush, and Nikash all presented during Third Committee Hearings Tuesday as well.  The delegation ended that night at the annual CONA dance!

Our delegates had some free time Wednesday afternoon after watching Aayush present at General Assembly.  They could swim, hike in the mountains surrounding Blue Ridge, or tour the historic Biltmore Estate built for George Washington Vanderbilt II.  After Plenary Session Thursday morning, the Texas delegation ended CONA on an incredible high as Sharif Long, 2019 CONA Presiding Officer and 2017-2018 Texas Youth Governor, was on hand at the Awards Ceremony to witness Aayush Dave receive the same honor for CONA 2020.  Whata conference!  We’re so proud of all our students.

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Outgoing Presiding Officer Sharif Long and incoming Presiding Officer Aayush Dave celebrate with Legislative Section Leader Sue Six, State Director Angie Castilleja, and former State Director Suzanne Mabie.

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CONA Opening Ceremony!  Notice the Whataburger shirts.

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Delegation group photo!

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Texas YG seniors receive their CONA rocking chairs from the Blue Ridge craft shop.

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Thank you, delegates, for a fantastic national conference!

2019-07-05T17:34:31-05:00July 5th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Congratulations, 2019 NJC Delegates!

We are excited to announce the 40 students who will represent Texas at this year’s National Judicial Competition (NJC) held in Chicago! This competition will take place this summer, July 29-August 1. Be on the lookout for updates during the competition!

Trial Court Delegates: Fort Bend YMCA, JBS Law Magnet, Christian Life Preparatory, Bishop Lynch High School

Chris Babineaux, Annalisa Cheek, Ava Christensen, Joel Dakwar, Andrew Erne, Maddie Fridge, Kennedy Greenleaf, Reagan Hain, Majoy Jackson, Fatima Lazalde, Braden Mallory, David Naguib, Stephanie Naguib, Sophia Newcomb, Marquis Nickerson, Dawson Noltensmeyer, Jack Rogaliner, Julyana Sanchez, Kylie Scarborough, Krystal Serrato, Zosia Staniunas, Ava Steinman, Rebecca Steinman, Jonah Stepanski, Annalicia Teel, Chrishara Wallace Williams, Ford Winchester, Grayson Winchester

Appellate Court Delegates: Creekview High School, Del Valle High School, Cleburne High School, Duncanville High School

Tarek Arouse, Daniel Baldizon, Caleb Barkman, Jack Bennett, Joseph Bremer, Joanna Boyer, Kennedi Ford, Evan Miller, Freddy Nieto, Kennedy Onic, Cesilia Perez, Arturo Rolon

Congratulations! We are so proud of all of you and can’t wait to see what you accomplish this summer in Chicago!

2019-04-12T13:07:50-05:00April 12th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

National Advocacy Days 2019

Last week, two of our Texas YG students visited Washington D.C. to advocate on behalf of the YMCA. We are proud to share that Diomarvellous Nsofor (Houston) and Grayson Winchester (Ft. Worth) represented Texas in this opportunity! They spent several days sharing their passions through advocacy and civic engagement at a national level.

Each year, Youth and Government programs across the nation participate in Y-USA’s National Advocacy Days. Youth Advocates meet with legislators to discuss Y-USA’s legislative priorities. This year, Diomarvellous and Grayson advocated for funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which create academic enrichment opportunities for school-aged children, and support for drowning prevention campaigns across the nation.

Diomarvellous and Grayson met with the offices of six Representatives during their experience in Washington D.C. – Rep. Dan Crenshaw (Texas’s 2nd congressional district), Rep. Pete Olson (Texas’s 22nd congressional district), Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas’s 20th congressional district), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas’s 18th congressional district), Rep. Sylvia Garcia (Texas’s 29th congressional district), and Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas’s 10th congressional district). They also had the opportunity to present Rep. Colin Allred (Texas’s 32nd congressional district) with the Congressional Champion award. This award is presented to legislators who are committed to the Y’s areas of focus of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Additionally, they engaged with Angela Castilleja, Texas YG State Director, David Lopez, YMCA of Greater Houston and Texas State Alliances of YMCAs, Marie Arcos, YMCA of Greater Houston, and Jess Stuart, Community Development Executive of YMCA of Greater Houston. When they were not meeting with legislators, students participated in round table discussions and workshops with Youth Advocates from across the country. We’re so proud of Diomarvellous and Grayson’s efforts in Capitol Hill!

Grayson and Dio presenting the Congressional Champion award to Rep. Colin Allred

Our Youth Advocates preparing to meet with Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s office

Meeting with the office of Rep. Joaquin Castro

Rep. Olson made Dio and Grayson pinky promise they would never run against him for office


2019-03-11T14:11:36-05:00March 11th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Introducing Your 2019-2020 Youth Governors

Introducing your new YG and JYG Youth Governors, YG students elected them during the State Conference this year. Look below to read about them!

High School Youth Governor

Tadiwa Mujokoto

What was your experience as a Governor Candidate during the State Conference like?

Being a Governor Candidate was such an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to learn about and witness what happens in each program section. I have spent all of my years in the legislative section, so it was very exciting to get a better understanding of what occurs in each section. During the course of the weekend, I met so many different people, which was exciting but also nerve-wracking because I can be very shy, but that’s what this program is all about. We are learning how to step out of our comfort zones. Something that shocked me most about being a candidate was the amount of free time that I had.I have gotten used to being busy from the beginning of the day to the end of the day, so it felt strange having so much time for ourselves,  Having so much time gave me the chance to actually meet and get to know my fellow delegates. Also, it was a great experience to run against some of the brightest and determined people that I have ever met. I am glad to have had the chance to meet such passionate and driven people.

What most excites you about the platform you ran on?

I am most excited that my fellow delegates chose a candidate who believes in the power that they hold. My platform was based on making sure that every delegate realizes their potential to make a difference right now, rather than waiting until the future to get involved. With the way the world is changing and evolving, the youth need someone who believes in them and wants to empower them.  the fact that I am a female was not the main focus of my campaign. I believe that the delegates who participate in this program were ready for a big change. After almost 10 years without a female Youth Governor,  I definitely believe that this election opened the door for other women in the program who would like to run for office in the future.

What are some key policies you would like to highlight during your term as Governor?

As governor, my ultimate goal is to help my fellow delegates to realize that every one of us has the power to make a change today, but it is up to each of us to use that power and get involved.   The best way to enhance this program is to start from the ground up. During my term, I will work to start Youth and Government summer camps for students who are new to the program and those who are returning. This will give students an opportunity to learn about the program before the official start in the fall and it will allow students to have an easier transition between each program section. Secondly, I would like to reinstate the Youth Commission section. The Youth Commission provides delegates the chance to experience each section allowing them a chance to really learn what section would best suit their individual talents and needs. Lastly, I am looking into securing funding for a scholarship awared to two seniors in each program section who have shown exemplary participation and exhibit the YMCA’s core values of respect, responsibility, honesty and caring.

During my term, I want to sign bills that focus on the well-being of Texas Citizens. It is important to me to sign bills that will keep Texas Police officers safe and accountable by requiring officers to patrol in a buddy system and wear body cameras while on duty. Laws like these will keep officers safe by ensuring that they have back up and it will keep them accountable because their action on duty will be monitored. Also, legislation that ends the privatization of prisons and that promotes the rehabilitation of prisoners rather than the punishment of prisoners.

How long have you been with YG? What is your favorite moment in YG?

I have been in Youth and Government since I was in seventh grade. My school’s Youth and Government starts in seventh grade. So, I had to wait a year before joining. It turned out to be the best wait of my life.  That was when I discovered my love for learning how our government functions. I’ve loved every minute of my time in the program.

It is very hard to pick just one favorite memory during my time in Youth and Government. My absolute favorite memory actually is not just one event, but it was my experience at this year’s State Conference. In the past, I have always been busy debating and running around the State Capital, but this was the first time that I was able to meet and connect with delegates in each program section. I gained a deeper understanding of why each section is just as important as the next. This year I also made more friends than I ever had because I the time to get to know the people outside of my section. Once I was elected, a number of my fellow delegates expressed that they felt as though they finally had representation within the program and that their voices would be heard. I am honored to have the opportunity to represent those who have felt overlooked within Youth and Government.

 Do you have any advice for other delegates?

The most important piece of advice that I could give to my fellow delegates is to get involved. Not only are we the leaders of tomorrow, we are also the leaders of today. We all possess the potential to have a lasting impact in the world. Find what drives you and put your all into it. Whether it be Youth and Government, sports, or fine arts, you can not make a difference without being passionately involved. Also, go into everything with an open mind. Despite your race, background, or beliefs there is something that can be learned from everyone.

Thank you for sharing Tadiwa!


Middle School Youth Governor

Diya Hegde 

What was your experience as a Governor Candidate during the State Conference like?

My experience was very enjoyable. I liked meeting new people, making new friends, and getting to know many of them. I really enjoyed going from section to section and watching these delegates debate. I learned a lot from the delegates this year.

What most excites you about the platform you ran on?

My platform points are recruiting more advisors, expanding smaller delegations, and assisting underprivileged people financially so that they could come to the State Conference. I am passionate about my third platform because we can give delegates an opportunity to experience something as great as the State Conference. Also, by recruiting more advisors and expanding smaller delegations, we are developing future leaders across the state.

What are some key policies you would like to highlight during your term as Governor?

Improving overall health and wellness (Mental & Physical), Improving the Education System, Measures Against Gun Violence, Criminal Justice, and Improving Texas’ Infrastructure. These are all the policies that I feel could be improved with the help of some well-thought out and effective bills.

How long have you been in YG? What is your favorite moment in YG?

I have been in the YG program since 6th grade. Last year, as a sixth grader, I was a bit anxious and didn’t know what to expect before my first competition. This year, I mentored and helped out 6th graders so that they could feel more confident about themselves. My favorite moment in YG is when I saw their faces light up whenever they won an award at the conferences.

Do you have any advice for other delegates?

Make sure you always give your 100%. This is a great opportunity to develop your public speaking skills. Maintain good body language throughout the conferences and let your voice spread across the room. Vocal inflection is important when trying to persuade people to vote for your bills and proposals. And most importantly, make friends and have fun!

Thank you for sharing Diya!


We’re so excited to see what you both accomplish during your term as Governor!



2019-03-06T12:53:45-05:00March 6th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments