This program empowers youth to become critical ethical leaders and responsible citizens through training in the theory and practice of making public policy. Over the course of a school year, students from across the city learn invaluable skills that they can use to improve their communities for years to come. Acting as mayor, council members, committee members, the press and Board of Education, students debate and pass laws that they believe can solve our region’s and our nation’s most pressing problems.
All program activities lead to the YMCA DC Youth & Government Legislative Weekend, where students participate in a two-day working simulation of the DC government.
In our local program’s short history, one bill from Legislative Weekend has been passed into law by the real DC government (the DC Council Youth Internship Program)! Nationally, Youth & Government has influenced legislation on Seat Belt laws, Highway Striping, Motorcycle Helmet Laws, Railroad Crossing Laws, and many other policy proposals that were first passed by students in the program before they were instituted by state legislatures.
The Five Components of the Program
Civic Education Program: In the fall, college student volunteers teach local high school students about government and civic engagement. Each student in the program selects a public issue of real concern to be worked on during the year.
Youth Summit: Later in the fall, students from across DC come together to debate and discuss the issues they have selected. They meet with community leaders including elected officials both to discuss the issues and to learn about having a career in public service.
Skill Development: Over the next few months, site coordinators help students learn parliamentary procedure, improve their speaking skills, and develop their own solutions to community challenges. Students research and write bills to be presented during Legislative Weekend.
Legislative Weekend: All the work done this far culminates in this capstone event, held in April. Students participate in a simulation of DC government, with an elected youth mayor, city council and agencies. Bills are drafted and debated, and some are passed into law. Participants then send these laws to the DC mayor and City Council for review.
YMCA’s Youth Conference on National Affairs: After Legislative Weekend, a group of outstanding local students are selected to attend this conference, where they meet high school student leaders from across the country.
To learn more or get involved, visit www.dcyag.org!
For more information about the YMCA DC Youth & Government program, please call Emma Lipscomb, Program Director, at 202-232-6700.