Students Become Stronger Citizens in the Y’s Youth & Government Program
The Youth & Government Program helps young people in grades seven through 12 develop into strong citizens, who are both knowledgeable and active in determining the future of our democracy. Students learn about the democratic system, while being trained in parliamentary procedure, the legislative committee process, debate, press relations and lobbying techniques.
Students and a mentor meet after school at their local YMCA branch a couple of times a week from October through April, to discuss and debate issues that affect citizens of their state and propose possible legislation to make government more efficient. Students then craft their own bills and serve as student delegates at the annual Youth and Government Model Convention in April, where they debate their bills on the floor of the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Previous participants in the program have written bills requiring labels on school lunches, limiting time in solitary confinement, offering more electives in school such as computer science and home economics and removing calorie restrictions on school lunches.
“The students not only build skills in public speaking, networking with peers, learning how to use their voice and practicing democracy, but they have fun!” says Terri Edgar, Executive Director of the West Chester Area YMCA.