SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT, SPEAK OFTEN
Youth & Government gives teens, grades 8-12, the opportunity to be a part of one of the oldest YMCA non-partisan, civic engagement programs in the country. What began in 1947 is now one of the highly rated civic engagement programs in Washington State. Youth and Government allows for over 500 teens, across our state, to participate in the legislative process of writing bills, passing of mock laws currently on our country’s agenda and the researching and debating of present important issues.
During the program, teens may run for elected offices, work as a reporter, debate/pass laws as a legislator or serve as a lobbyist to influence legislators on pieces of legislation. This eight-month program starts in October and is designed to give teens a chance for a “hands-on” experience running a model state legislature for four days in Olympia at our state capitol in May.
What Is Youth And Government?
Youth and Government is different than traditional classroom civics—rather than just speak or read about civic engagement, students in YAG actually get to put their skills to the test and learn through an experiential, hands-on, student-led journey outside the classroom.
Through weekly delegation meetings, district and state events, teens will learn the skills and technics necessary to prepare them for the annual YMCA Youth Legislature Conference. This year’s program culminates May 4-7, 2022, where teens from every corner of our state will immerse themselves by taking on roles within state government: from Youth Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney Generals within the Executive Branch to Speaker of the House, Lt. Governor, committee leaders and legislators within the Legislative Branch, in addition to the important roles of lobbyists and press corp.
What Delegates Will Learn In The Program
- To foster the development of citizen responsibility
- To develop social competence, problem-solving ability, and communication skills
- To encourage self-reliance and a sense of purpose for youth
- To stimulate careful deliberation of social issues and their possible resolutions
- To create opportunities to hear and respect varying viewpoints
- To inspire young people to be responsible and act with integrity
- To apply ethical values in making public policy
- To teach the YMCA core values of Honesty, Caring, Respect, and Responsibility
Developing Long and Short Term Goals
- Deeper understanding of how the role they play is important to government
- Collaboration skills
- Create and maintain new friendships across state
- Public speaking competencies
- Building self-confidence
- Thinking critically
- Debate w/ Y values in mind
- Greater understanding of how they can influence public policy
- Learn how to advocate through the legislative process
- Take on and enhance leadership skills
“Through participation in the YMCA Youth & Government program, my friends and I are becoming aware of the opportunities our state has to offer. By working with peers in Tacoma and around the state, I can discuss statewide problems and work together to develop solutions. Together, we gain skills as citizens and learn about the democratic process.”
- Liam W.
“It is fun to see and learn how the system works. I had learned it in school, but it’s nothing like it when you actually experience it for hand. This program is amazing, and teaches students good fundamentals and how Washington is fueled.”
- Alex W.
"Youth and Government empowers me to advocate for every single thing I believe in. I'm really confident not only in myself but my abilities."
- Dany S.
Teen Leadership Development Programs Available to All
YMCA programs are open and available to everyone within our communities and you do not need to be a Y member to participate in any of the Teen Leadership Development programs offered. No person shall be turned away due to the inability to pay.
Y Experience Scholarships
Y Experience Scholarships help remove the financial barriers to accessing YMCA facilities, programs, and services. Scholarships are provided based on household, income, and special circumstances. Please complete the application online and a Y staff member will contact you soon. Apply For A Scholarship.