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State YMCA of Maine Youth in Government

Grade level: 9-12

Promising Approaches

  • Instruction in Government, History, Law, and Democracy
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Simulations of Democratic Processes

Overview

Special Features

Civic Learning Goals

Required Resources

Available Resources

Comments and Reflections from Students

Contact Information

Overview

The State YMCA of Maine Youth in Government program is a program that allows students in grade 9-12 to serve as a member of the Model Legislature. Students draft all of the legislation, elect and serve in all of the leadership positions. The program is in two phases. The first phase is a session held regionally in which all bills written are submitted and 1/3 of the leadership positions are elected. Then, in May, Youth in Government hosts a 3-day weekend of the Model Legislature, which is held at the State House in Augusta.

Students get a chance to write bills that they would like to see become law in Maine. Those in leadership positions come a day early to be trained in their roles. The elected leaders work throughout the weekend to get every bill written through the entire process, from Public Hearing to the Governor's Desk. Students serving in our Governor's Cabinet write a report of the events of the weekend, including a recap of each bills history.

Special Features

Using the State House for our 3-day conference makes a tremendous impression on the students. Being in the Capital, and using House and Senate Chambers, emphasizes the "citizen" aspect of Maine's citizen legislature. More importantly, however, the content of the program helps students develop an appreciation for the responsibilities our elected representatives undertake, as well as the power and authority of their role in civic life.

Over the course of the past 10 years, 3 of our bills have become bills submitted to the actual legislature.

Furthermore, students who fill leadership roles are elected by their peers and they serve throughout the weekend. Our advisors and chaperones serve only as resource persons; Youth in Government is a student driven program.

Civic Learning Goals

Civic Knowledge

  • Key principles, documents, and ideas essential to constitutional democracy

Civic Skills

  • Critical thinking, active listening, analyzing public policies, problems and assets, and understanding multiple perspectives
  • Communicating one's position through writing or speaking
  • Voicing opinion through electoral and non-electoral means, such as voting, lobbying, protesting, and organizing.

Civic Dispositions

  • Developing concern with the rights and welfare of others
  • Developing a belief in one's ability to make a difference
  • Developing attentiveness to civic matters and a desire to become involved in the civic life of the community

Required Resources

An interested adult to organize the delegation.

The program CD, which includes all needed forms, and program information.

Available Resources

Program CD

A new website in late 2006

Comments and Reflections from Students

"Being in the State House is great; we really get to feel like we are the real legislature."

"I wish Youth in Government were longer; then we could really get into all the bills."

"We had ownership in all parts of the program: writing the bills, serving in leadership positions, and most of all being able to be at the State House."

"This was one of the best experiences of my life -- being able to be in charge of the Senate was really fun."

"I use the resources from the program in my Civics and Government classes."

Contact Information

Lonney A. Steeves, Program Director
Maine YMCA Youth in Government
31 Town Hall Lane
Winthrop, ME 04364
207-377-9686
winymca@aol.com
Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools: Education for Democracy