Since the start of the 86thTexas Legislature this January, TNOYS has been at the forefront in engaging youth and young adults from our member and partner organizations in the legislative process. Through opportunities to give testimony during legislative hearings and at our February 1stYouth in Action Capitol Day, youth have been able to share their voices, concerns, stories, and ideas to impact decisionmakers.
This year, Youth in Action brought approximately 150 youth, young adults, and adult sponsors from across Texas to the Texas Capitol in Austin to learn, share, and visit their representatives.
The day began with opening remarks by TNOYS Executive Director Christine Gendron and Todd Latiolais, Associate Director of Prevention and Policy with Governor Abbott’s Child Sex Trafficking Team. Both spoke about the importance of youth voice in advocacy as well as in everyday work to support youth and families.
Next, a panel of Young Adult Leadership Council members shared their personal stories and experiences with homelessness, abuse, and other challenges, and brainstormed with the audience on future solutions.
In the afternoon, participants had the chance to be part of innovative “speed advocacy” sessions where they visited stations focused on key topics and had discussions with legislative staffers to build practical skills. There was both an adult track and a youth track.
Finally, the day closed with remarks and the opportunity for a Q & A with Representative James Frank of Wichita Falls and TNOYS Policy Director Lauren Rose. A number of participants also took the opportunity for additional advocacy by visiting their local representatives while in Austin for the day.
As one attendee put it, “[The day] was really eye opening, exciting.” TNOYS is grateful to state leadership, including Todd Latiolais and Representative Frank for helping to make this important event a success.