Youth and Government (Y&G) provides students the opportunity to experience the democratic process and develop the leadership skills needed to become citizens of a participatory society. Based on the motto “Democracy Must Be Learned By Each Generation,” Youth and Government is a nationwide program that involves more than thousands of youth in grades 8-12 each year.
YMCA Youth and Government promotes:
- An understanding of local, state, national, and international concerns
- Research, study, and debate on public issues
- Exploration of careers in public service
- Interaction with adult and youth leaders involved in decision-making processes
- An understanding of political systems and the forum they provide for the effective and peaceful resolution of issues and concerns
- Appreciation for the diversity of viewpoints on public issues and a concurrent respect for ideas, beliefs and the positions of others
- Demonstration of citizenship responsibilities and leadership roles essential to the health of a participatory democracy
Beginning in the fall of each year, students come together in their local delegations to choose their roles, and prepare for the State Convention. Delegations meet at schools and YMCAs across the region. At the Y&G State Convention, students create their version of state government under the guidelines of their state Constitution. All Y&G participants come together for a three-day event at their State Capitol. Legislators meet in committees and in the House and Senate chambers to debate legislation. Attorneys try their cases before student judges and engage in a moot trial competition. The entire event is covered by a student newspaper, published four times in three days, and by a student television news program that airs several times each day. Participants also engage in campaigns and elections for officers who will serve during the following year.