YMCA Youth & Government is a national program of the Y that involves thousands of teens nationwide in state-organized, model-government programs. Students from every corner of the U.S. have the opportunity to immerse themselves in experiential civic engagement and to, quite literally, practice democracy. Teens from across every state meet in their local Youth in Government groups throughout the year to discuss and debate issues that affect citizens of their state and to propose legislation. The program culminates with teens serving as delegates at their state conference, debating bills on the floor of the legislature.
Youth and Government could be run as a class in school, a club, or some other format, differing from school to school. It would be an excellent requirement for a Government class to provide more meaningful authentic assessment.
It is difficult to introduce or facilitate a program that may be new to you. For teachers, therefore, Sarah Achorn, an experienced teacher in the state and Plymouth State Alumni has provided the following presentation that she uses to introduce the program to her students.
Below are the procedures that students follow when engaging in mock legislative sessions (debating and voting on bills). Teachers typically practice this process with their students throughout the year to prepare them for the experience. However, there is a one-day prep session that students attend in Concord, so new teachers who may be overwhelmed will become more informed via that session and students will get direct support from Youth and Government coordinators.
As part of the program, students will craft a bill that they will take to the mock legislature. This can be a daunting task as the structure and format of writing a bill is much different from other forms of writing students may be more experienced with. Therefore, Sarah Achorn, an experienced teacher in the state and Plymouth State Alumni has provided a collection of sample bills that you can provide students to give them a benchmark for their own. Encourage students to select topics and bills that are important to them, timely, and needed.
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