DOWNEY - Two-thousand-four-hundred California teens gathered at the state capital over the course of five days last weekend, presenting bills and proposals to be implemented into the California legislature. This program is known as the Youth and Government, it is a statewide run program designed to educate future generations on politics and governmental policies and procedures. Thus sparking its motto, "Democracy must be learned by every generation". California teens have attended state wide conferences to prepare them for their February convention in Sacramento. Over the past 60 years, Youth and Government has been responsible for allowing teens to grow essentially while supplying them with leadership skills that they carry on into other endeavors in life. Their focus is to mold strong, free thinking citizens while allowing them the freedom to choose their own course into other aspects of the program. With hundreds of delegations throughout the state of California extending as far as Eureka to San Diego, it is no surprise there is a delegation nearby.A local delegation resides close to home, the Downey-South Gate Delegation (DSG). This delegation is composed of 19 delegates, ranging freshman to seniors, who attend Downey, Warren, South East and South Gate High school. A few of the Downey delegates include; Amy Gebert , Christy and Jonathan Gera, Elena Alonso , Nichelle Esquitin, Leonela Chaj, Amanda Flores , Kevin Garcia, Melanie Molinaro , Olivia Harlaom, Michelle Bertinelli, Alexis Denes, Evan Gregorio and myself, Britawnya Craft. Since early October, DSG has been preparing and prepping for roles and debating on bills. Last weekend was the final conference of the Youth and Government program for this year. Every delegation is responsible for proposing at least one bill (depending on the size of the delegation), that they would like to see implemented into California's legislation. While in Sacramento teens take on several different roles that they model, and also take over the capitol and courts. The roles vary from several different program areas such as the court system, legislature, media, National Issues or hold a highly publicized position. These roles can include a district attorney, a judge, bailiff, lobbyist, senator, assemblymen, legislative analyst, presenting a proposal to be passed into legislation on a national level, working with print media, or a broadcast reporter with the news. The possibilities are endless in this program. Although, the bill DSG proposed did not make it through Senate, Michelle Bertinelli proposed a bill dealing with national issues. It made it through general assembly (4 rounds) and will be reviewed by Governor Schwarzenegger to determine its place in California legislation. During their time in Sacramento, two DSG delegates, Christy Gera and Amy Gebert held high positions as committee chairs running hearings. Composed of only two delegates, Amy Gebert was selected to work with the Youth Governor next year, on his governing board. The delegates of DSG have worked extremely hard over the past several months for their Sacramento conference. While this sparks the third year of the Downey South Gate delegation, this program would not be possible without DSG's wonderful advisors, Cecilia Butler, Christine De la Torre, Mary De Witt and Jean Fiddler. Their endless support, love and appreciation has inspired all delegates to strive for more in life and also to believe in themselves. Although the February conference sparks the end of the road for many Youth and Government seniors, it is not necessarily a sad time for all. The friendships gained through Y&G are everlasting while the experience and lifelong lessons are priceless.
********** Published: February 20, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 44