This weekend the Texas Youth and Government District Conference for District 5, Dallas, will be held in Garland. According to Association Teen Director District Director Youth and Government, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, Jenna Struble “over 1,200 middle and high school students from across the metro have been participating in their Youth and Government clubs to simulate the legislative and judicial sections of government.”
Not gender specific, the conference welcomes boys and girls of all races, social economic levels, religions and beliefs.
“All middle and high school students from private, public and home school are welcome, as long as they are affiliated with their local YMCA Youth and Government club,” Struble said.
As in year past, the goal of the conference will be to actively achieve hands on learning for attendees by putting what they have learned in their clubs into practice while maintaining the four core values of the YMCA, respect, responsibility, honesty and caring. Attendees will win awards based on various scoring rubrics, as well as their character during the conference.
Students in all grade levels lead their peers through their duties as state officer, club president or other officer, chairing and clerking hearing committees, leading their peers with reporting assignments, presiding over courtrooms and helping to train their peers prior to the conference, as well as train adult advisors and help to organize the conference. Skills they will demonstrate are debating, public speaking, writing, presiding and diplomacy.
“This conference is also a qualifying and preparatory conference for the State Youth and Government conferences in Austin in January and February, as well as the Model United Nations Assembly in April,” Struble added.
Youth and Government organizers believe it is paramount that young people learn how to be responsible citizens and future leaders.
“Without their knowledge of basic government processes and the inspiration to be engaged in their communities and with their government leaders, democracy is in danger,” Struble said. “Our program motto coined by our founder, Clement P. Duran, is ‘Democracy must be learned by each generation in order to survive.’"
The conference also teaches students valuable skills they need to be successful in school and beyond in the workplace and in college as well as the needed social skills necessary to navigate the adult world and beyond their current dependence on technology.
Awards given will include a small percentage winning Distinguished Delegate awards based on scoring systems in their sections, as well as character performance. A special award will be given to one person from each section for their outstanding servant leadership called the Angie Baggot award, named for a former Plano teen worker who was very passionate and beloved by teens and her community. The top three mock trial teams will also win trophies, as well as the top Appellate moct court team. This year, Tyler Technologies is awarding three $2,000 college scholarships to the top scoring mock trial prosecuting and defense attorneys, as well as the top presiding mock trial judge. In addition, outstanding hearing committee teams will win medals in both middle and high school.
“This program is not only for the government nerds and the academically driven,” Struble said. “This program brings out the very best in every teen. We empower them with tools and allow them to grow and learn independently, as well as within their peer groups and it works.”
Texas Youth and Government was founded by a professor at SMU in 1946 and district conferences have been held in the area since 1947. The State of Texas is divided into five main districts; Fort Worth, Houston, Midland, Austin and Dallas, which is the largest district that includes 18 areas overall. This year’s conference will be held on Saturday November 21 from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. at Lakeview Centennial High School, 3505 Hayman in Garland. The keynote speaker will be US Congressman Pete Sessions.