North Texas youth gather at Grayson College for Leadership Forum

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DENISON, TEXAS -- Thirty-two North Texas student leaders gathered at Grayson College Thursday for this year's North Texas Youth Connection Leadership Forum.

"When you see them in these groups like they are now, it gets you really motivated and excited," Coordinator Nicole West said.

"You really can make a difference when you have the means and the passion for what you do," student participant Emily Schaffer said.

Schaffer teamed up with other area students to troubleshoot problems they see in their schools.

They then take those problems and potential solutions down to the state capitol in April, where they lobby to state representatives.

"We're hoping they're going to go out and advocate, you know, that's really what it's all about, is developing strong leaders in our community," West said.

"You have to be very, very, very confident when you go up to the capitol and you talk to these people," student participant Katherine Camp said.

These students do have a shot at impacting state law: they've been successful before.

"A group of kids from a past conference of ours helped pass the Moment of Silence in schools. And they go, 'Really? Is that true?' Yes that really is true. And they go, 'Okay, we're really going to do this.'" West said.

This is Daniel Lecheler's second year to participate in the conference and trip to Austin.

He says the experience has taught him to be more civically engaged.

"Back when I was a freshman, I didn't really care very much about politics and stuff like that. Ever since then, I kinda paid more attention to the news and what was going on in the world around us," Lecheler said.

"We're able to just like find a passion for what we want to changed in Texas and actually see representatives that can make our passion a reality," Schaffer said.

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