By NewsLine Staff

Students motivated to learn more about how our state government works will want to sign up for the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast Youth in Government program. Through this program, teens have the chance to build leadership skills, gain self-confidence and discover how our government operates. Students learn debate techniques and earn community service hours, scholarship opportunities, college credit and an experience to remember at state assembly.

St. Johns County high school and middle school students will begin meetings Mondays, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m., in the Nease High School Media Center, starting Sept. 12.

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Meetings will also take place at the St. Augustine YMCA on the first and second Mondays of each month, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m., starting Sept. 12. The program is also available in Clay and Duval counties.

Since 1957, Florida Youth in Government has brought the best and brightest high school students to the State Capital for General Assembly in Tallahassee, to debate in the actual Senate and House chambers to learn responsible leadership in the American democratic process and to experience law making first-hand through five program areas: Legislative, Executive, Judicial, Lobbyist and the Press Corps.

This student driven program allows students to learn legislative protocol, formulate arguments and practice debate techniques by learning to “debate ideas not people.” New this year, a statewide Fall Delegate Conference will bring students from around the state together to learn to draft, research and present a bill in order for it to become state law. General Assembly, which takes place in Florida’s state capitol, allows high school students to present their authored bills in actual House and Senate Chambers. More than 750 Florida students experience Youth in Government in Tallahassee each February.

Involved senior students are routinely rewarded with scholarships, college credit with two years of involvement, community recognition and most importantly the self-awareness and confidence to be leaders. Junior Youth in Government for middle school students attend an assembly in April of each year.

Registration for the program is $75, which includes all materials and tee shirt. Registration forms can be downloaded from the YMCA website. Fall Delegate Conference is an additional $100 to the state program. This includes transportation, overnight lodging and meals for a weekend trip. High school State Assembly takes place in Tallahassee in 2017.

Visit First Coast YMCA at and search for “Youth in Government” for more information.

Photo courtesy Jeanie Taliaferro

Chloe Smith-Lopez participates in last year’s Youth in Government


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