Addison Denslow, 17, who is home-schooled, Noah Genovesi, 17, a recent Austin High School graduate, Mary Floreani, 16, a junior at Wimberly High School, and MaKayla Goertz, 16, a junior at Bastrop High School were chosen to be Texas delegates at this prestigious, week-long event. Students from 30 states are selected to participate each year in this conference based on their performance in local and state YMCA Youth & Government programs.
The YMCA of Texas delegation at CONA consisted of 25 delegates. Participants prepared proposals which were then presented, debated, and scored, according to their national or international importance, evidence of research, feasibility, presentation, and originality.
Out of all Texas proposals written, 13 advanced to a second committee debate, including those from the Austin-area students, MaKayla Goertz and Noah Genovesi. Two Texas proposals moved to a third committee; and one Texas delegate presented in the last committee, the Plenary session, where his proposal passed.
With more than 600 students from around the country, first-time delegate Genovesi had an enlightening experience. “My favorite part of the trip was during [the Plenary session],” said Genovesi. “Only ten proposals out of the 600 that started make it to Plenary. One of those was written by Cameron Burleson from Texas. His thankfully passed, and afterwards, everyone’s first reaction (from Texas) was to run straight up to him and hug him. Having 25 of the brightest kids in the U.S. surround one of their peers for passing his proposal showed me the vast potential our country has when our generation is finally in a position of power in this world.”
CONA started in 1968 as a follow-up to the outstanding Youth & Government programs conducted by YMCAs throughout the United States. The purpose of CONA is to offer rare hands-on opportunities for young people to conduct research in the area of national and international concerns, to organize this information into a document proposal, to engage in intensive discussion, and to debate these proposals with outstanding young people from other states.
“This year as a veteran, I appreciated the experience,”
Advisers and past participants in the conference are unanimous in their belief that this experience makes a vital contribution to helping citizens learn more about the democratic form of government. CONA is an extraordinary conference that offers students the opportunity to conduct research, organize information into a document proposal, engage in debates, and enables students to discuss proposals with outstanding young people from other states.
The YMCA Youth and Government Program offers another event to help develop teenagers into responsible citizens. The National Judicial Competition (NJC) will be held from July 30, 2014 to August 2, 2014. This event brings together Youth and Government participants from around the country to face off in mock trial and appellate competitions. There will be participants representing the Austin area from Ann Richards School and Del Valley High School at the competition.
YMCA Youth and Government program works with middle and high school students interested in state government. The Y partners with 15 high schools in the Austin area to provide an afterschool club where members can choose to participate in legislative, media or state affairs forums.
To learn more about YMCA Youth Conference on National Affairs (CONA) and the National Judicial Competition (NJC) or YMCA Youth and Government, contact Missy Quintela at 512-236-9622 or missy.quintela@
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About the YMCA of Austin:
The YMCA of Austin is a nonprofit organization that has served the Austin community since 1953, providing health and wellness, aquatics, youth sports, day camp, childcare, youth leadership and family enrichment opportunities for more than 64,000 members and 60,000 program participants. More information on the YMCA of Austin is available at www.AustinYMCA.org.