In the mid 1930s, Clement Duran, a YMCA Director from Albany New York, wanted to find a meaningful experience for young people that might inspire them to become active and concerned participants in government as citizens. He struck upon the idea of a “model” legislature that would provide “hands on” learning. The slogan, “Democracy Must Be Learned By Each Generation,” was developed by Duran to interpret the purpose of the program. The first Model Legislature was held in Albany, New York, in 1936. With encouragement from the National YMCA, the program spread rapidly to nearby states. The California YMCA Youth & Government program was initiated in 1949. Approval and support was enlisted from Governor Earl Warren, father of two boys in the first program. From this point forward, California YMCA Youth and Government has received the full support of the elected governor. In January, 2001, California YMCA Youth & Government was chartered as an independent YMCA responsible for the statewide program, and continues to provide these specialized youth programs for YMCAs of California. For 62 years, California YMCA Youth & Government has provided learning experiences for more than 65,000 middle and high school youth. The mission of California YMCA Youth & Government is to ensure that leadership, democracy, and the YMCA Core Values of Honesty, are learned by each generation. Our fundamental goal is to make the Youth & Government programs accessible to all, and to expand program participation significantly by the year 2012. Our current activities include the following programs: Model Legislature and Court (ML/C) – For high school age youth, 9th – 12th grade. A high quality, comprehensive, experiential and educational simulation based upon California’s State government. ML/C teaches the values of democracy by creating citizen leaders from a cross-section of the State’s high school population, providing them with the opportunity to experience government first-hand, and to learn how to solve community problems. The program helps develop citizenship, leadership, enhanced communication and personal organization, self-confidence, respect for others and strong character traits. The program features: Trial, Judicial Review, Appellate and Supreme Courts, and programs for pages, journalist in print media and broadcast media, lobbyists, legislative analysts, national issues commissioners, state board members, legislative counsels, chaplains, historians and a special forum program for sophomore delegates. Model United Nations (MUN) –For middle school youth. Participants come together to perform the roles of United Nations Ambassadors from countries around the world. Through a UN simulation, participants learn to enhance their social development and fellowship with peers, develop leadership qualities, appreciate diverse cultures, sharpen public speaking skills and acquire an in-depth understanding of international issues which face our global community. Spring Model Legislature and Court (Spring Conference) is a low cost, casual conference held at a YMCA facility adjacent to a park. Ideal for recruiting new, younger delegates, the conference features a simplified ML/C format combined with plenty of recreational activities. YMCA Youth Conference on National Affairs (CONA) is a premier debate conference held in Black Mountain, North Carolina which brings together the best delegates from over 25 states. California selects a delegation of 25 from over 60 applicants. These delegates write proposals of national or international importance and champion their proposal through several layers of committee. Our CONA delegates return with improved speaking and debating skills and exceptional leadership abilities. Former CONA delegates often return to assume volunteer staff positions during and after their college years.
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