Since its inception in 1938, the YMCA New Jersey Youth and Government program has been educating students in civic engagement and public speaking. The program culminates every year in a two and a half day legislative simulation that offers more than 400 delegates the opportunity to debate pertinent state issues, engage in servant leadership, and most importantly, forge lifelong relationships.
Students attending the NJYAG conference get an opportunity to enhance what they would learn in a traditional civic class by actively simulating the entire process legislation follows before becoming law. Conference also caters to a wide range of interests; in fact, delegates are able to participate as senators, assemblymen, justices and lawyers, media members, and more. Throughout the process, delegates have access to the mentorship of staff members, including professional lawyers, YMCA staff trained in youth empowerment and training, and NJYAG alumni studying or working in a wide variety of fields.
Through the NJYAG program, students are better able to understand and get involved in political and public affairs, develop their public speaking, improve their writing and research skills, and be empowered to advocate for their beliefs. Guided by the YMCA Four Core Values — Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility, conference focuses on fostering debate and friendships between delegates free from the tension in modern politics, allowing students to develop themselves in a safe and supportive environment.