More and more tweens are interested in politics and the Michigan Youth in Government (YIG) program is the perfect training ground. The comprehensive program, organized by the Ann Arbor YMCA, teaches state governmental process in a fun, interactive way. It all culminates in a conference at the State Capitol in Lansing where participants take part in a unique simulation as legislators, lobbyists, lawyers, and members of the press corps.
Lydia Miller, YIG coordinator at the Ann Arbor YMCA, explained details of the program. Weekly meetings cover bill writing, debate, parliamentary procedures, political issues and governmental procedure. “This is an amazing program designed for middle and high schoolers to get actively involved in the community,” Miller said. “YIG provides a hands-on learning experience for how to make a bill, with every student given the opportunity to sit in House, and Senate chairs to learn first hand what parliamentary procedure is.”
Meetings for middle school students begin in September and students will attend the State Conference in late November. High school student meetings start in October and participants attend the State Conference in late February. For students who homeschool, or if your school does not participate in the YIG program, weekly meetings are held at the Ann Arbor YMCA.
We caught up with Charlie Hickman, an 11th grader at Community High School, who has been in the YIG program since eighth grade and will continue this year.
What inspired you to join the program? I started because I heard of a lot of other students doing it, so I decided to check it out and I was hooked.
What is your favorite part of the program? You get to meet people from all over the place when you attend the conference at the State Capitol in Lansing.
Do you have a bill you created that was your favorite? I really liked my last one. Last year I wrote a bill changing Michigan from a “winner take all state” to a proportional vote state for presidential elections. Once passed, it would assign the Michigan presidential electors by proportional vote instead of the popular vote. This bill passed through the House, Senate, and was eventually signed by the youth governor.
What is your recommendation to students who are interested in joining? Join as early as possible because you will benefit the most from being involved for multiple years. Yet, it is also great to start any time. Just come to a meeting and check out all the YIG has to offer.
YIG is looking to expand to more schools in Washtenaw County. One teacher is required to be present during the weekly meetings and serve as the liaison between participants and Ann Arbor YMCA staff. There is a charge to be a member of the program and financial aid is available on a sliding scale.
To learn more about the YIG program, contact Abbey Davis:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-661-8012.