Illinois YMCA Youth and Government is a hands-on learning experience for high school students from across the state. Students receive leadership skills that will not only serve them well in school, but also gives them the tools to become involved in their community and responsible citizens.
Our program year goes from September to early March. During the early fall, delegations work on recruitment, figuring out what roles students would like to do, and getting students and adult volunteers registered. Delegations hold meetings to determine bill topics, work on parliamentary procedures, and can have community leaders come and speak to students regarding community and civic engagement. There are two Pre-Legislative Training Sessions that all participants attend, and the statewide General Assembly that is held in the state capitol, Springfield.
The program provides all training materials, recruiting materials, mentors – anything that is needed to help delegations succeed and thrive. Contact the Youth and Government office.
Pre-Legislative Training Sessions
Regionals for Pre-Leg I and Sectionals and Primaries for Pre-Leg II are the sessions where students are first exposed to the processes of state government and judicial procedure. Delegates serving as Legislators present their written Bills to be debated and hopefully passed through the Pre-Leg sessions for further discussion at the Springfield Assembly. Lobbyists select an organization to representfrom and compose a Legislative Agenda which details how they can support certain bills. Legislative Assistants learn the Election and Bill Flow processes and get an overview of the Issues Forum. Attorneys begin to learn the terminology of trials and appeals and proper courtroom decorum. The Press Corps begins to learn the responsibilities of a free press by training to publish the daily Assembly newspaper The Observer, or produce the nightly newscast, Capital Correspondance.
PRE-LEGISLATIVE REGIONAL SESSION I
The first session of the year is called Pre-Leg I. This is where students begin to serve in the roles they have selected. There are four locations around the state that will host Pre-Leg I during the first weekend in November. Region 1 and Region 2 are in the northern part of the state, Region 3 is in the central part of the state, and Region 4 is in the southern portion of the state.
The Pre-Leg session begins with a General Session where all delegates from that section meet for announcements and information, and listen to speeches from major candidates. Delegates adjourn to break-out sessions depending on roles. Legislators go to assigned committees to discuss legislation. Lobbyists, Attorneys, and Legislative Assistants attend informational and role specific seminars, and the newspaper press members attend a planning session either in person or by webinar as well as do research for their first articles for the newspaper, while Video Press begin training on video equipment and learn the techniques of interviewing with representatives from Eclipsed Production.
PRE-LEGISLATIVE SECTIONAL SESSION II
The second pre-legislative session of the year, Pre-Leg II, is held in three locations around the state. Sections 1 and 2 are the Regions 1 and 2 respectively but held at different locations, and Regions 3 and 4 combine to form Section 3. Pre-Leg II is usually held the first full weekend in December.
The Pre-Leg session begins with a General Session where all delegates from that Region meet for announcements and information, and listen to speeches from candidates for major offices. Beforehand, major office candidates are given an opportunity to campaign. The candidates will give speeches, and all delegates vote for the final candidates who will run in Springfield. The delegates adjourn to break-out sessions per roles as they did at Pre-Leg I. Legislators go to assigned committees to discuss legislation. Lobbyists review their Legislative Agendas and elect Assistant Directors of Lobbyists. Attorneys and Legislative Assistants attend seminars, and Media Corps members attend a webinar session (newspaper) and hands-on training (video) as well as do research stories for the Assembly.
For more information and details about any of the delegates’ responsibilities, please refer to the Legislative, Lobbyist, Legislative Assistants, Judicial and Press handbooks, which are all compiled here. There are also student handbooks for each role posted online here.
Our year ends with the General Assembly in Springfield! Our students take over Springfield during our three day Assembly. We are privileged to use the Capitol building, the House and Senate committee rooms and chambers, the Governor’s office, the Supreme Court and other facilities around the Capitol Complex. Students use their training as legislators debate the bills on the chamber floor, lobbyists support legislation, the Legislative Assistants participate in a State Issues Forum, our judicial participants participate in oral arguments, and the media corps covers it all. Elections are had for some leadership positions for the current year, as well as for the next year. We also have a Saturday night fun night, with a dance, karaoke, inflatables, as well as a Town Hall debate with the Gubernatorial candidates.