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Santa Barbara Family YMCA Youth & Government Delegates Return From Fresno Conference

More than 3,500 Youth and Government delegates from across the state participated in the Training & Elections conference held Jan. 16-18 at the Fresno Convention Center. Click to view larger
More than 3,500 Youth and Government delegates from across the state participated in the Training & Elections conference held Jan. 16-18 at the Fresno Convention Center.  (CIYMCA photo)

The Channel Islands YMCA Youth & Government Alliance joined more than 3,500 youth from across the state in Fresno this weekend for a Training & Elections conference held Jan. 16-18, 2016, at the Fresno Convention Center.

More than 70 teens with the Channel Islands YMCA were part of the team. 

The Youth & Government program offered at YMCAs — including the Santa Barbara, Lompoc, Stuart C. Gildred and Ventura branches of the Channel Islands YMCA — gives students a chance to learn about California’s legislative and judicial processes by writing bills, preparing briefs and role-playing in governmental positions like lobbying, running for office, debating bills and voting on legislation.

“I learned that I can touch the hearts of thousands of people with my words and I don’t have to wait until tomorrow to make a change, I can make a change today” said Mark Godges, a delegate from Santa Barbara.  

The Santa Barbara Family YMCA Youth & Government delegates are 9th-12th graders who attend Santa Barbara High School, San Marcos High School and also middle college at Santa Barbara City College. They are part of a statewide program of around 90 delegations.  

Youth and Government is a six-month program offered by YMCAs across the nation that provides students the opportunity to experience government first-hand and learn how to solve community problems through the democratic process as well as debate and discuss issues with their peers.

“This program is truly remarkable in every sense of the word, it lets teens voice their opinions and introduces them to a healthy form of debate,” said Gabriel Osollo, Youth, Teen and Families Programs director at the Santa Barbara Family YMCA.

“The teens have a chance to meet new people from all over California, and it’s life changing for most of these youth,” he said.

In California, the experience culminates with Model Legislature & Court in Sacramento in February. The Channel Islands delegation will participate in the 68th Model Legislature & Court held Feb. 11-15 at the Sacramento Convention Center. 

To support this program or to learn about how to participate, please contact Gabriel Osollo at 805.687.7720 x274 or visit

Hannah Rael is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara Family YMCA.


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