There are two ways to learn about government. The first is to read textbooks about what others have done. The second is to take that theoretical knowledge and apply it in an actual government setting.
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The YMCA Michigan Youth In Government program provides high school students with a unique opportunity to become acting state legislators, lobbyists, lawyers and members of the press corp. The students simulate all phases and positions of the actual state government. These students are challenged with many of the issues our real legislators must face in their elected offices. Our expanded program includes a mock trial (Model Judiciary Program) and a national issues debate section (National Issues Forum) dealing with national and international issues.
Youth from throughout the state are selected as delegates from student councils, government classes or YMCA's and spend months researching for the event. These students may go through an election process for leadership positions in the House and Senate as well as the executive branch. They work in chambers to introduce, debate and vote on proposed legislative bills that have been written by the youth legislators in their hometowns.
Fall conferences are held in each district during the fall of each year after local Youth in Government groups and delegations have been formed. Delegates to the conference receive training in all areas of the program and elect youth officers for the model session. Nominating speeches, balloons, and countless pieces of campaign literature are distributed to the delegates. Elections occur by individual ballot.
In the spring, the Youth in Government program meets in the legislative chambers of the state capitol and the courtrooms in Lansing where scaled down versions of actual sessions are conducted. Committees meet, debate is held, and bills are signed into model law.
Other programs that students may participate in are:
The National Youth Governor's Conference in Washington D.C., where Youth Governors from all 50 states meet with the President, Cabinet Officers, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, etc.
The YMCA Youth Conference on National Affairs held in Black Mt., North Carolina in June
The National Judiciary Competition, supported by the YMCA and ABA, held in Chicago in August.