The Ohio YMCA Youth & Government program is seeking new participants for their program.
Youth & Government is a national government and politics program that promotes civic literacy as well as community service.
In years previous, the program has only been open to students in high school, but in 2015 the program expanded, creating a new conference for middle school students. It is anticipated that the program will serve over 900 students in 2017.
But the conference isn’t just for fun, many of the bills created by Youth & Government participants have gone on to become actual laws. A few examples include, the establishment of the “right on red,” driving law and ratification of the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, granting the vote at age 18.
Students also hold the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House and President of the Senate. Participants also engage in campaigns and elections for officers who will serve during the following year.
The program has grown tremendously since 2013, increasing to 125 high school students participating, to 503 high school students and 162 middle school students. In 2016, the program saw 577 high school students and 231 middle school students.
According to State Director, Charlie Myers, the program has made a conscious effort to integrate into Appalachian schools. Myers himself grew up in West Virginia and later lived in other rural communities like Peebles and Gallipolis, Myers says he holds small communities near to his heart.
“Sometimes students in rural communities may not have the opportunity just to go to Columbus,” said Myers. “We never turn a child away for funds, we work with the schools to make sure every child who wants to participate can come.”
As of now, three schools in Scioto County participate. Myers says he would like to see the number of Scioto and Adams County schools increase in the coming years.
“Since the program deals with politics there are certain issues that only effect certain areas,” said Myers. “For example, students from rural communities are going to know more about fracking and natural resources, whereas students from urban areas may have no idea what that means or how it impacts communities. It gives them a chance to experience new things, but also share their experiences with others.”
Any school or civic organization can participate, including homeschooling groups.
The program fee is set below the cost to operate at $275 per student, which includes all materials, overnight lodging in downtown Columbus and three meals while at State Assembly. However, the YMCA offers financial assistance to those in need and to begin new delegations, reducing the fee to $1
Myers says that an adult must help lead the club in monthly meetings and assistance from Youth & Government officials can be provided for those wishing to open a new delegation. The adult does not have to be a Social Studies or Political Science teacher.
For more information about the program, please visit www.ohioymca.org or email State Director Charlie Myers at [email protected]
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