Category Archives: McKinney

Youth in Government

I am an unabashed govvie. I nerd out on the governmental process — which can be totally distinct from bureaucracy. Bureaucratic processes can be found in most well-established, hierarchical organizations to ensure decisions at the top flow down. As a non-linear, disruptive thinker, I’m generally not a fan of bureaucratic practice, but rather the role of democracy to represent the people and bring about public good — which is an inherently governmental process. The social science behind how we govern fascinates me, while the politics of human nature can be tedious. I believe in the inherent goodness of our democratic processes in the US, but understand that even the best system can be misused and abused for personal gain. This is not an indictment of our current political environment, by any means, because history is rife with examples of political intrigue and discord. It’s in our best interest, as a nation, to train our youth to be thoughtful, passionate future leaders who can problem-solve and make reasonable decisions for our nation. To this end, I’m thrilled to take part in the YMCA Youth in Government program.

See. Government really IS fun! Just look at those faces. Image credit: YMCA Texas

See. Government really IS fun! Just look at those faces. Image credit: YMCA Texas

Here’s why I love this program: it’s all about “equipping a generation to improve our nation.” The YMCA Texas Youth and Government program offers hands-on student-led activities to learn about, and practice, the governance processes at the State level. By participating, I have an opportunity to help prepare the leaders for tomorrow.

YMCA Youth in Government mission: “To help teenagers become responsible citizens and future leaders of our nation.”

Floor debate at the Texas Capitol. Image credit: YMCA TX

Floor debate at the Texas Capitol. Image credit: YMCA TX

This weekend, I attended an all-day training for advisors. I serve on the McKinney city team, specifically at McKinney Boyd High School. I’ve attended two after-school Youth in Government club meetings at Boyd so far, with another one today. My role will be to help guide them in selecting bill topics, edit the bills they draft, accompany them to the district and state conferences — and whatever else they throw my way. I learned a great deal at the training, including details about the key areas of programming that students can take part in.

Legislative – Grades 6-12: Students discuss topics of interest related to Texas law, research the topics in order to write a one page bill, learn and follow Parliamentary Procedures, lead discussions in committees and on the floor of the House and Senate, learn debating skills, and practice public speaking skills.

Judicial – Grades 9-12: – Students study an actual criminal or civil case for trial or appellate court, including procedures, rules of evidence, objections, laws for precedence, then serve as attorneys, appellate attorneys, and witnesses.

Media – Grades 9-12: Students learn about the role of the media, research current issues, practice writing and editing skills, as well as technical skills associated with camera equipment, online publishing, and social media.

State Affairs Forum – Grades 6-12: Students research current issues and draft one page proposals to solve an issue, learn and practice Parliamentary Procedure, and practice debating skills.

While the YMCA Texas Youth and Government program is modeled after the competitive political environment that exists at the local and federal level, the YMCA Model United Nations is designed around collaborative problem-solving practices.

YMCA Texas Youth In Government participants. Image credit: YMCA Texas

Go Texas! Image credit: YMCA Texas

So far, they boast 40 state programs with 25,000 students and over 3000 volunteer advisors. I get to bump up their stats by one, as I dive into my role as advisor to the local McKinney club. I look forward to learning and growing with the students in our local club — especially at the State Conference in January in Austin at the Texas State Capitol.

Austin, here we come!

 

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Filed under leadership, McKinney, Texas

Volunteer McKinney

Did you know McKinney was ranked #1 on Money Magazine’s Best Place to Live List in 2014? Every day, I discover new reasons why McKinney made the list AND why I love living here.

Today, I spent time with Dana Riley, Executive Director of Volunteer McKinney — which Dana describes as the “Match.com for local nonprofits and community volunteers.” She’s right! Founded in 1998, Volunteer McKinney is a place for citizens to learn about volunteer opportunities, and for nonprofits to list their needs. Their newly redesigned website is easy to navigate and provides up-to-date information about organizations, with a monthly calendar for a quick overview of events.

Volunteer McKinney Mission Statement:

Connecting people to their passion through volunteerism and supporting McKinney area nonprofits through training and collaboration.

I’m looking forward to several events coming up this summer and fall, all hosted by Volunteer McKinney — specifically the Collin County Giving Day which features organization booths (and animals…if snakes qualify as animals….) in a fun, festival environment; Santa on the Square, which offers families one-on-one time with Santa at scheduled intervals in Santa’s Workshop; and McKinney Make A Difference Day, where hundreds of volunteers fan out to do projects to help the community. In fact, Volunteer McKinney recently received national recognition for Make A Difference Day, which included a $10,000 grant from Arby’s Foundation.

Volunteer McKinney Make a Difference Day. Image: Volunteer McKinney

Volunteer McKinney Make a Difference Day. Image: Volunteer McKinney

Volunteer McKinney conducts an annual Homeless Census. Dana explained they work with local organizations to collect numbers, but also conduct a survey on one night each year where teams work with the police and fire department in a grid pattern across the city.  Volunteer McKinney also hosts the McKinney Summit on Youth to provide resources and training materials for individuals and organizations working with at-risk youth. The Summit has an impressive list of collaborating agencies, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Job Corps The Samaritan Inn, Collin College, McKinney Education Foundation, and many more. Dana would love to provide the model for other interested communities. Reach out to her if you want to learn more.

Volunteer McKinney Summit on Youth

Volunteer McKinney Summit on Youth. Image: Volunteer McKinney

Dana is passionate about her job. It’s infectious. She’s part of the reason that McKinney is one of the Best Places to Live. I’m excited to learn more ways to contribute back to my new community through volunteering — now that I have more time. I’ve already found a few opportunities on the website that I plan to sign up for. Thanks Dana for sharing you wealth of knowledge with me.

T-shirt from 2017 Volunteer McKinney Make a Difference Day. Image: Beth Beck

T-shirt from 2017 Make a Difference Day.

This really is a wonderful life in small town USA!!

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July 11, 2018 · 11:35 pm