"Democracy must be learned by each generation" is the motto of the nation-wide Youth & Government program. Participants are students in 9 through 12 grades. They meet weekly to learn about the legislative process and draft bills. "The program builds leadership and communications skills," says Jessica Bringelson, Miller Y teen director. "Through annual conferences, participants have the opportunity to meet other teens from other Ys throughout the state."
In November and January, delegations from more than 90 California YMCAs meet for training sessions at Camp Roberts National Guard Base near Paso Robles. Here, delegates prepare for their roles at the Model Legislature & Court Conference held over five days in mid-February at the State Capitol in Sacramento. More than 2,600 delegates descend on the legislative chambers and state capitol conferences rooms to debate bills and pass laws. Delegates can also choose to participate in state, appellate and trial courts hearings, as print and broadcast media, lobbyists, political party members and other government-related roles.
"It's more than just learning about how our government works," says Bringelson. "Youth & Government teaches participants how to communicate and debate ideas in a logical manner and how to become team players. These skills aren't normally taught in school. It's all done in a fun, yet challenging, environment."
For more information, contact the Miller Family Y at 805-480-0309, or email Jessica Bringelson at jbringelson@