Santa Barbara Family YMCA Youth & Government Delegates Experience Democratic Process First Hand in Sacramento

Hannah Babcock debating bill crop_small

In the Senate Chamber of the California State Capitol at the 68th Model Legislature & Court, Santa Barbara delegate Hannah Babcock debates the bill submitted by the Santa Barbara Family YMCA Youth & Government team.

The Channel Islands YMCA Youth & Government delegation joined more than 3,500 youth from throughout California for the 68th Model Legislature & Court held Feb. 11-15 at the Sacramento Convention Center and State Capitol. Part of the team included Santa Barbara Family YMCA teens in ninth through 12th grade.

As a delegation, youth create bills about pertinent issues, research and practice court cases, develop public speaking and networking skills, and attend three annual Model Legislature & Court conferences. The youth have been meeting weekly over the last six months to prepare for the culminating Sacramento conference.

“Youth and Government teaches you more than you would ever learn in a classroom. I have learned how to handle emergency situations and how to react accordingly, I have learned to be a better public speaker, and in turn has made me a better leader and friend,” said Elsa Larsen, a fourth year delegate from San Marcos High School.

While in Sacramento, the bills developed by the delegations during the fall were debated in committees, then on the floor of the Assembly and/or Senate and, if passed, sent on to the Youth Governor.

Mark Godges from the Santa Barbara delegation was elected to a statewide position – presiding officer in the National Issues Committee. 

The Santa Barbara Family YMCA delegation submitted a bill about authorizing a female to sell her embryos for stem cell research. The Santa Barbara Family YMCA had their bill pass through the mock Legislative Committee, mock Senate and mock Assembly. They are now waiting for the Youth Governor of Youth & Government to sign their bill, which is in the final step.

California YMCA Youth & Government’s Model Legislature & Court (MLC) has been the state’s premier youth leadership and civic development program since 1948. This program provides them with the opportunity to experience government first-hand through a unique “youth-run, youth-led” model.

At beginning of the summit, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla addressed the students, encouraging them to get out and vote and reminding them that every vote counts, every election is important and that each delegate can make a change.

“This program gives the students a chance to speak their mind in front of a huge audience, it provides them the opportunity to say what they believe and feel,” said Gabriel Osollo Youth, Teen and Families Programs Director, Santa Barbara Family YMCA. “It gives them a voice and no matter where they come from or what kind of economic background they have, everyone involved has the chance to make a change.”

The Youth & Government program is offered at the Santa Barbara, Lompoc, Stuart C. Gildred, and Ventura branches of the Channel Islands YMCA.

To support this program or to learn how to participate in the 2016-2017 delegation, please contact Gabriel Osollo at (805) 687-7720 ext. 274 or visit Interested students do not have to be members of the YMCA to join.

About the Channel Islands YMCA

Established in 1887, the Channel Islands YMCA is a charitable organization of seven YMCA branches serving Santa Barbara and Ventura counties including: Camarillo Family YMCA, Lompoc Family YMCA, Montecito Family YMCA, Santa Barbara Family YMCA, Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA in Santa Ynez, Ventura Family YMCA, and Youth and Family Services YMCA which operates Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter, the St. George Family Youth Center and My Home.

The Y is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  The Channel Islands YMCA serves over 46,000 individuals and provides over $1.3 million in financial assistance to families in need for child care, YMCA memberships, away and day camps, youth sports, and teen after-school programs. For more information about the Santa Barbara Family YMCA, visit or call (805) 687-7727.


Leave a Reply