Every Monday from 5:30 to 6:30, the Rose E. Schneider YMCA’s conference room is lit up with the fruitful debate of young adults. From debating mock bills and court cases to teaching activities of the press, Rose E. Schneider YMCA’s Youth and Government program is training the speaking and argument skills of teenagers.
Youth and Government is a statewide mock government program which runs on a three-branch system of legislative, judicial, and the press. The legislative branch primarily focuses on debating the passage of a mock bill in the government of Pennsylvania. One example is a bill that requires funds from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control board to be allocated to a sexual assault prevention organization. Later in the year, legislative delegates will eventually write their own mock bill.
The judicial branch receives their own mock court case in December and takes several weeks to determine the constitutionality of a ruling. Teams of justices and attorneys will then debate several cases in a tournament-style contest in the statewide program. The press branch of YAG acts as the media of the statewide program, reporting how developing court cases and bill debates are going. The work of these branches throughout the year culminates in a 3-day debate conference in Harrisburg where delegates will be able to act out their elected positions and see their bills debated in the Capitol building, argue court cases, and use their own Youth and Government websites to update developments at the conference.
The Rose E. Schneider delegation hosts over 60 high school students weekly to create fruitful debate. Despite a variety of political opinions in Youth and Government, delegates are encouraged to speak passionately, and the comfortable environment of YAG prevents any ill-will to be spread among delegates. The mock government YAG proposes inspires government hopefuls, but it also develops better speakers and better thinkers.