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Encinitas teens take on city hall

ENCINITAS — Youth and Government is a YMCA program for middle and high school youth to simulate the government and bill development processes. Since 1948, the program lets youth participants develop bills, present ideas, lobbying, leading peers and taking part in social and leadership experiences.This year, the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA’s Youth and Government program has 45 active high school participants. This is an extra-curricular activity that brings students from all schools in the area together for civic learning and advocacy. These students come from varying walks of life, different neighborhoods and diverse motivations but they all find common ground in the belief that they can change the world for the better.

This year, students involved included Jeffrey Sardina, Jack Cooper, Matt Benowitz, Bridget Jackson, Ethan Lossing, Sandy Taylor, Karina Langli, Emily Ozorio, Dylan Larson, Daria Sheik, Kenny Hahn, Lillie Meyer, Cheyenne Tucker, Bronson Massas, Constantina Komninakis, Dan Kirwin, Sofia Goldmann, Kacen Horner, Jennifer Kelly, Grant Rogers, Chloe Arnold, Anthony Law, Grady Gumner, Tyler Oepkes and Max Ashworth.

The participants from the Y presented two researched and developed bill proposals to a panel of council members Nov. 18. The bills these students presented focus on recycling taxes for renewable energy procedures and mandating California schools to be equipped with a mechanism that will allow doors to quickly be locked by anyone inside the room in case of a campus intruder.

This hearing night helps the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA Youth and Government students get one step closer to refining their own bill proposals and presenting them in Sacramento. In February, the statewide assembly will bring together nearly 3,000 students for parliamentary procedure of debates, elections and voting completely carried out by the students. In the past, delegates from San Diego have moved forward as candidates for Youth Governor, cabinet members and National Issues Commission candidates. The ultimate goal is to pass a bill and send it to the desk of Governor Brown for a final signature of approval. Seatbelt and helmet laws are examples of past Youth and Government successful bills.