The current government has a 70 percent disapproval rating. The Youth and Government club has been working to increase involvement and change perceptions.
Youth and Government is a student-run club that was started this past December by sophomores Christina Liu and Ellie Esterowitz. YAG is a branch of the YMCA and puts hard work into creating a realistic government experience. The club currently has four delegates, but co-presidents Esterowitz and Liu managed to entice between 16 and 21 new members for next year.
YMCA YAG is a national organization that allows high school students to participate in model government, legislation and court. On local, state, national levels. Each state has their own convention where the delegates meet to discuss and debate.
Organizing a group of students to write bills and spend time listening to Senate debates is tiring work. Esterowitz and Liu decided to start this club. “One of my best friends from tennis has a really high position within the YAG organization, and he’d always talk about how amazing the program was. Then one day one of my school best friends Christina Liu randomly started talking about the same program, and we ended up starting a Wootton Delegation together as co-presidents,” Esterowitz said.
Dedication to the club is important to Esterowitz and Liu. They’re in charge of figuring out how to get the club members to the meets. Esterowitz explained how the club is run. “YAG is run with a lot of organization. Delegates can choose to do four different programs within the full organization, those being legislative, judicial, lobbyist and press branches. Most people do legislative branch and delegates who choose to do that write a bill with lots of research, learn formal parliamentary procedure, and then at the Annapolis convention debate bills that come to the floor,” Esterowitz said.
State representatives to listen to their constituents, but listening to all the adult voices often means the young voices get drowned out. YAG shows that young people can participate in these hard conversations by traveling to the capital. Sophomore Owen Matus enjoys the meets. “We went to two single-day conferences in Baltimore and one three-day overnight in Annapolis, where the program is run in the actual Maryland State House, where the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates meet, along with the governor,” Matus said.
The three day conference was something Liu looked forward to as well. “It was really cool to take the seats of real delegates,” Liu said.
The club has been successful at their debates with Liu being awarded as an “Outstanding Delegate,” an award given to one person from the 150 delegates by the governor’s cabinet and program directors for speaking skills and leaderships. Liu appreciates the atmosphere that surrounds YMCA YAG. “Youth and Government has such a kind and accepting environment, and since it’s a program encompassing all of Maryland, so many different viewpoints and thoughts are always heard on the floor. The directors and committee chairs are super helpful and the people here are some of the brightest I’ve ever met,” Liu said.