Leaders are developed by doing, and the Wisconsin YMCA Youth in Government (YIG) program seeks to foster the next generation of thoughtful, committed, and active citizens. The program aims to enable young people to prepare for leadership through participatory training in the theory and practice of determining public policy.

Guided by the organization’s motto, “Democracy must be learned by each generation,” our program builds values-based leadership and civic engagement in Wisconsin’s youth in order to strengthen participation in our democracy. Our efforts build, strengthen, and encourage life assets and positive character traits. The hands-on program provides positive opportunities and experiences for youth. Participants strengthen their communities by becoming active and responsible contributors who are inspired to lead and are empowered to create meaningful change.

The Wisconsin YMCA Youth in Government program provides teens with a unique opportunity to learn how to be civically engaged by acting as state legislators, lawyers, justices, and media. Students simulate all phases and positions of the actual state government and are challenged with many of the same issues our real legislators must face in their elected offices. The program is open to all students in grades 7-12 and engages hundreds of students from across the state each year. During the culminating conference in Madison, participants take over the historic halls and chambers of the Wisconsin State Capitol and Supreme Court. Legislation is debated and court cases are decided, as students apply skills they have gained in the program.

Through Youth In Government, you have the opportunity to:

► Join together with youth leaders from around the state to debate issues that are important to you
► Listen to and learn from delegates with different experiences
► Research public issues and become aware of local, state, national and international concerns
► Accept your civic responsibilities and your leadership role

► Let your voice be heard and get involved in the decision-making process