The Junior Legislation Program here at the YMCA Youth and Government Conference offers your children a unique opportunity to grow and learn both individually, and as part of a statewide community. As an alumnus of the Youth and Government Program, I can personally attest to the variety of communication and writing skills your child will gain from participating in this program, as well as the values and connections they will carry with them for years to come. Every aspect of our conference is planned through the lens of the YMCA’s Four Core Values of Honesty, Caring, Respect and Responsibility. While the conference weekend is framed around bill writing, debate, and modelling the political process, the larger focus is on teaching our delegates how to engage in thought provoking debate on important issues, while remaining respectful of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. The overall goal of the weekend is for our participants to leave feeling like a better version of themselves, able to more clearly express their beliefs and more confidently live their truths.
Throughout the course of our weekend, your children will be led through ice breakers and debates, exchange character development awards to recognize each other’s achievements and growth, and learn from amazing young leaders both in their immediate peers, as well as amongst our high school participants, such as this years Junior Legislator Commissioners Sonya Mehta and Sydney Kang, who have worked diligently to plan and run the weekend sessions. They will debate each other’s proposals on ways in which our state, and the lives of its citizens, can be improved. They will break out to work with high school mentors and experience other areas of conference such as working with our Press Corps to write articles or record and edit videos, or working with the Lobby Corps to ensure that all perspectives on an issue are heard or help other delegates prepare for their own debates, or even spending time with our conference-wide elected Youth Governor and their cabinet to discuss the bills passed throughout the weekend and whether they should be signed into conference law.
Finally, I’d like to take a moment to address some of the common concerns that are raised. For many of our Junior Legislators, this is their first time away from home without their parents. Our delegation advisors and program staff work diligently to ensure the safety and comfort of our participants throughout the weekend. For many of our Junior Legislators, this is their first time participating in debate or public speaking. Our focus on the Four Core Values means that this conference is not a competition to be the best, but instead a space for our students to learn and grow. When asked about their conference experiences, many of our alumni won’t remember what their bill was on or whether it was passed, instead they will speak of the encouragement they received, the friendships that they made, and the lessons that they continue to carry with them.
For detailed information on what our program does, check the JL Manual linked here and in the top menu, and feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have!
Program Director, Jr. Legislators Program