The general assembly typically sets the mood for the upcoming week. This year’s general assembly was no exception to the fantastic ones we have seen in the past. Participants were able to hear from the CEO of the YMCA, a Colorado representative, a Colorado senator, a District Judge from Colorado, and some of the student officers.
A speech from the CEO of the YMCA, Jim Hiner started off this year’s assembly. President and Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA Jim Hiner talked about just how important it is for leaders to rise up in younger generations. He says, “The state, country, and world needs leadership. We need leaders who care about what is right, not just about winning.” To drive this point home, one of his mentors said to him that there are “Three types of people in the word: leaders, critics, and followers. Which one are you going to be?” In that moment, Jim Hiner says that he realized that leadership is a choice, and he emphasizes how everyone has the ability to change the world. Leadership is a quality that everyone is able to learn even if it is in different ways. Mr. Hiner encourages all of the youth here to pursue that quality whether it is in the senate, the house of representatives, the judicial branch, the press and media, or in the page program. Youth in Government is an amazing opportunity, and it “brings together more than 150 students every year from schools throughout the state … Youth in Government alumni are statistically more likely than other citizens to vote, get involved, and volunteer for campaigns” (https://www.denverymca.org/history-yig). Confirmed by statistics and Mr. Hiner’s speech, Youth in Government is an extremely beneficial program for the future of Colorado.
This program could only happen from the support and donations from numerous people. One such person is John P. Leopold, who generously gave some of his time to come and swear in the 2017 officers for Youth in Government. John Leopold “served as a District Judge for 19 years, and as Chief Judge for 4 years, in Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, the largest district (in terms of population) in the state” (https://www.jamsadr.com/leopold/). Thanks to him, the Youth in Government experience has become much more realistic.
The general assembly was also privileged to hear Colorado Representative Kim Ransom speak about the importance of youths using their voices. Many participants may not even be old enough to vote yet, but she emphasizes that there are still many pathways to share ideas. One such way that she mentioned is how “If you see bills coming through that you do not like, call your representatives and senators and let them know. That way, they can determine how to serve the state well. In addition, do the same if you see bills coming through that you do like.” By being involved in a program such as Youth in Government, delegated have already started the process of being involved.
Chris Holbert, Colorado Majority Leader for the Republicans in the Senate, gave an amazing interactive speech which also emphasized how important it is for everyone to speak up. Specifically, he taught the delegation how it is okay to disagree. One time, Mr. Holbert was the only one who disagreed with a bill. Everyone gasped in the room when they found out, but it shows just how much confidence he had in his opinion even if it was not in the majority. He ended his speech by saying, “Remember that it’s okay to disagree but do so in a respectful fashion. Don’t be offended by that. It’s okay when people have a different solution to a problem than you do.” It is okay to disagree because people have to stand for what they believe is right in order to make the state, the country, and the world a better place.
The youth governor, Isaac Sloan from Pueblo West High School, and the youth attorney general, Eva VanDeList from Windsor High School, also have a huge passion to make the state a better place, which is why they are both involved in the program. They both gave speeches at the first general assembly. Isaac Sloan talked about how, throughout this experience, every individual needs to talk about their ideas no matter if people agree or not. Eva VanDeList talked briefly about judicial review, and she explains how this is an example of check and balances in the United States government. For more information about how judicial review works, please look in the 2017 Colorado Bill Book on page twenty-one.
Youth in Government is off to an amazing start, so make sure to tune into all of the wonderful speakers that the delegation is privileged to hear. Show them respect for taking time out of their day to talk to their youth of Colorado because it shows just how much they care about the people they are representing. Have fun in the rest of the session!
Author: Sierra Snyder
Photographer: Brittany DeRosier