Indiana News

Hoosier Students Get Hands-On Democracy Lesson

YMCA Youth & Government Model Legislature

1/26/2013

Indiana Statehouse

This weekend Indiana's future leaders are taking over the Statehouse in downtown Indianapolis. Nearly 200 teens from across Indiana are coming together for the YMCA Youth and Government Model Legislature.

The annual event lets Hoosier students get a hands-on lesson in the way democracy works. The teen delegates write bills, prepare briefs, select governmental positions to role-play, attend a statewide training conference and run for various elected offices. The program reaches its peak at the State House with the convening of the three day Model Legislature & Court. The teen delegates do everything their elected counterparts do, including using the historic halls, chambers and offices at the Indiana State Capitol and Supreme Court Chambers.

Daniel Cruz is this year's youth governor. The Hobart High school senior says he's optimistic about the future leaders the program is designed to help mold.

"These kids are the reason why we have hope for our future and our government," Cruz said. "They really aspire to be the next generation that's going to help in these troubled times. They have great ideas, they really want to help and they really care."

Cruz said this year's session will focus on a host of education issues, with student proposals that would offer tax breaks for students who pass the I-STEP test and eliminate fees for students applying to colleges.

Youth Governor Cruz said it was the support of the YMCA that orginally got him interested in government. "I was able to go to Washington D.C. and they gave us a lot of lectures about legislative processes. We got to see basically all of D.C. and see what they're doing there. It's a personal experience that you can't really learn from a book."

As acting youth governor, Cruz will get a chance to either sign or veto bills that cross his desk. He's also responsible for delivering the State of the State address, which you can watch on the Youth and Government Facebook page here.

The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis is represented by teens from its Baxter, Jordan, Pike, Ransburg, Urban Mission, Fishers, and Hendricks Regional Health YMCAs. Additional teens are be represented from the Evansville and Hobart YMCAs.

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