Youth in Government program at BSM continues to grow

Every September, eager faces line the conference room at the Ridgedale YMCA ready to tackle the activity that is Youth In Government.

“[Youth in Government] is an activity sponsored by the YMCA for students to be involved in a mock government that resembles the Minnesota judicial, executive, and legislative branches,” Keith Jones, Benilde-St. Margaret’s advisor to Youth in Government and social studies teacher, said. YIG is an activity within BSM but has active chapters in over 40 states and more than 25,000 students throughout the country who participate in their respective state conventions each year.

YIG was first created by the YMCA, otherwise known as the Young Men Christian Association. The YMCA is an organization that was built based on Christian principles to build a healthy well-being for all. YIG was made to reflect the Y’s four core values: respect, caring, honesty, and responsibility.

By participating in YIG, students have the opportunity to decide which of the three branches they would like to participate in. If wanting to work in the legislative branch, than the student can construct their own bill and submit it at the state convention; if they are interested in the judicial branch, then students may review a court case; if interested in the executive branch then they may be selected to join a committee or could run for a position such as governor. Although the students do not have a competition per se, they prepare for their presentations and seek to meet the requirements their position holds.

Schools all over the West Metro are part of the Ridgedale YMCA chapter. Because YIG is an event sponsored by the YMCA, schools do not have their own individual chapters but instead are grouped into chapters based on their location and proximity to the nearest YMCA. BSM is thus put in a chapter with other schools in the West Metro area such as Wayzata, Orono, and Hopkins. The students have the opportunity to work with students from these other schools on their entrusted tasks and also have the opportunity, if chosen to work along-side students at the executive level.

Students involved in YIG will be working on their respective responsibilities, and come January, students meet either at the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis or at the State Capitol. Students dependent on their branch meet at the Capitol building and go about what would be a normal day within the office presenting bills, using the courtrooms, and using the governor’s office.

YIG has been an activity within BSM for over ten years now and will hopefully continue growing in the future. Participating in an activity such as YIG gives students many opportunities now in life and in the future: “[Students] learn how the process works, they also gain lifelong friendships from people at schools other than BSM, and it may give them direction on a career choice,” Jones said.