Students From YMCA of Delaware Excel at National Youth in Government Conference

Wilmington, Delaware – Ten students from the YMCA of Delaware Youth In Government program participated in the YMCA Conference on National Affairs (CONA) in Black Mountain, North Carolina earlier this month. CONA, which started in 1968, helps young adults gain awareness of national concerns and issues, increase their understanding of the Federal Government, and work creatively to find solutions together.

At the Youth In Government conference, more than 550 students from 34 states prepared proposals addressing national issues to be presented and debated among peers across the country. YMCA of Delaware participants discussed issues ranging from regulating deepfakes to establishing relations with Cuba, to preventing workplace discrimination against African-American hair.

While Delaware students represent less than 2% of conference attendees, they make a big splash each year. During this year’s event Arianna Li, Nathan Cho, and Tristan O’Leary’s proposals made it to third committee and earned opportunities to make intent speeches in the General Assembly. O’Leary received a Distinguished Delegate Award, Sophie Douglas received an Outstanding Statesman award, and Dylan Thomas was chosen as an alternate Presiding Officer for the 2024 conference.

In addition to her award-winning performance at CONA, Sophie Douglas, the YMCA of Delaware’s 2024 Youth Governor received the first ever “Sarah McBride Award” named for the Delaware State Senator running for a seat in the U.S. Congress.

Youth In Government currently serves over 55,000 students across the country, with active programs in 37 states and Washington, D.C., as well as Youth Cabinets in additional 11 states. The program gives teens the opportunity to serve their schools, communities, states and nation through model government, civic engagement, advocacy, leadership and character development, service-learning, and other opportunities to amplify youth voice and strengthen youth civic health since 1936.

The YMCA of Delaware’s Youth In Government program begins each fall with a Middle School conference run by High School leaders. Each winter, High School students begin to prepare for Delaware’s Model Legislative and Judicial Conference held in the spring. The program is open to all middle and high school students in the state. The ten students representing the YMCA of Delaware at the Conference on National Affairs (CONA) are elected by their peers and announced during the annual Model Legislative and Judicial Conference’s closing ceremonies.

More information is available at

About the YMCA of Delaware

The YMCA of Delaware is Delaware’s largest nonprofit organization committed to empowering youth, fostering healthy living, and promoting strong communities. With seven branches statewide, a youth resource center, and an overnight camp and conference center in Worton, Maryland, the Y has developed longstanding relationships and a physical presence in Delaware so it can deliver lasting personal and social change. We are committed to serving everyone – regardless of age, income or background –nurturing the potential of every child and teen, improving Delaware’s health and wellbeing, and creating a healthy, inclusive community where all people reach their full potential.


Our Mission

To empower youth, foster healthy living, and promote strong communities.