This Monday, October 25th, the Hastings High School Youth in Government delegation hosted our State House Representative, Julie Calley.
Most students become a member of one of three legislatures-- red, white, or blue, divided by how much experience they have with MYIG-- as either a Senator or House Representative; these students write bills before the event which they then discuss in committees and debate in chamber sessions. The students in the legislature even get to have several sessions in our actual state legislature chambers, sitting in the same desks that our elected officials use when they run our state.
YMCA's Michigan Youth in Government (MYIG) program gives students a chance to learn about our political system by directly participating: for a weekend in February, hundreds of students from around the state go to Lansing to create a model government.
Other than the legislature, students can argue hypothetical court cases in the Model Judiciary Program (MJP), advocate for bills they believe in as part of the Lobbyist Program, check the powers of the government as part of the Legislative Oversight Committee, or write a newspaper about the goings on at MYIG as part of the Press Corp. MYIG even has a student governor with a governor's cabinet to review and sign bills passed by the student legislatures.
Participating in MYIG prepares students to be actively involved in politics as they mature into adults, whether they go on to run for office themselves, engage in political activism for what they believe in, or just be informed voters. The motto of Youth in Government is "Democracy must be learned by each generation," and the program strives to make its goal a reality.
The Hastings delegation invited the state House Representative for our district, Julie Calley, to meet with them, and so she came to the school on Monday. Students discussed MYIG with Rep. Calley, as well as what bills she was working on in the real government and what inspired her to pursue a role in politics. Rep. Calley stressed the importance of organizations such as MYIG to get young people civically engaged so that the voice of the people can be heard, something as important today as it has ever been.