From Nov. 12 – 18, 2,125 South Carolina students stepped into the roles of state legislators + those involved in the lawmaking process to experience democracy firsthand. The 30th YMCA Youth in Government Model Legislature and Court is focused on just that – taking education beyond the classroom so kids are more engaged + aware of exactly what happens in the state capitol.
“Speaker of the House” might not mean much to a middle schooler until they’re seeing a peer in that role or even serving in it themselves. Students can participate as senators or representatives to write and vote on legislation, candidates to understand the process of becoming a public representative + student-elected Governor, Lt. Governor + Speaker positions. Student media delegates cover the happenings through a variety of media platforms.
Students participate as part of their school delegations, and no one is denied the chance to go because they can’t afford the trip. The YMCA of Greenville raises $1M+ in scholarships for all its programs, and for this year’s conference alone, the YMCA of Greenville awarded $70-80K in scholarships for students to participate.
Not only does the conference offer students an opportunity to better understand the roles of legislators and state officials, it creates a forum to discuss current issues with peers + share ideas with other students from across the state. Students write their own bills to debate + work on solutions to problems in their areas, while feeling that their ideas are valid + taken seriously by those around them. That kind of opportunity can translate to major confidence for S.C. students.