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Friday, March 31, 2000

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Youth Governor Nicole Chang of Waipahu High
School signs bills enacted by the Youth
Legislature, as Gov. Ben Cayetano looks on.

Young legislators
learn more
than lawmaking

By Rosemarie Bernardo


They passed bills on prostitution and hate crimes, but just as important the members of the 51st Annual YMCA Hawaii State Youth Legislature forged friendships and learned something about themselves and state government.

Legislature 2000 About 60 high school students from Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island spent their spring break debating bills and resolutions to improve Hawaii.

Nicole Chang of Waipahu High School, selected as Youth Governor, signed 22 bills and resolutions yesterday in a ceremony at Washington Place. The bills will be sent to Gov. Ben Cayetano, Senate President Norman Mizuguchi and House Speaker Calvin Say for consideration.

The young legislators met at the University of Hawaii Campus Center and stayed in dormitories.

Rep. Brian Schatz (D, Makiki) congratulated the students on their accomplishments.

"A lot of times the success that may come to you might not be in the form of a bill passing, but might just be in the form of educating a member or educating another person of the public and changing their minds."

Gwen Ichinose, state director for the Youth Legislative Program, said one of the components of the program was for teens to develop leadership and problem-solving skills.

Ryan Caday, senior at Kamehameha Schools, was selected as Youth Veteran Senator of the Year. Caday said he learned how "to cope with people and to be more understanding."

Collin Miyamoto, an advisor for teen lawmakers, said the program helped students to "come out of their shell." Students learned technical skills such as public speaking and how to interact with people, said Miyamoto.

Elliot Olinger, a junior at Waipahu High School, said the program was worth giving up part of his spring vacation.

"I learned that I'm able to hold a leadership role. I'm more confident now," he said.

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