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High school students from around Indiana will convene in the State Capitol for the annual Indiana YMCA Youth and Government (INYaG) Model Government Conference (MGC), March 8-10, 2024. Since 1965, INYaG programs have developed and promoted an understanding of local, state,
national, and international concerns; research, study, and debate on public issues; exploration of careers in public service; interaction with adult and youth leaders involved in decision-making processes; an understanding of political systems and the forum they provide for the effective and peaceful resolution of issues and concerns. Although this conference is for the high school students, the INYaG program serves students in grades 6- 12.

“Teens are our now and our future, so experiential civic engagement is critical to their growth and impact on our nation,” says INYaG State Director, Iesha Grove. “This program gives youth a voice for making a difference in their communities and state, as well as provides them with necessary skills like advocacy, leadership, public speaking, speech and debate, critical thinking, social skills, and public service experiences.”

This year, student delegates from Avon, Westfield, Marion, Ferdinand, Martinsville, Angola, LaPorte, Kokomo, Peru, Columbia City, Crown Point, Evansville, New Albany, Fort Wayne, Greensburg, Hobart, Indianapolis, Logansport, Merrillville, New Haven, Newburgh, Portage, and Westport will have participated in the annual conferences.

The Clem and Mary Lange YMCA in Ferdinand is sending 10 delegates in its inaugural season of Youth in Government. Advisor Tarry Kerkhoff says: “I have been amazed by the bills that the youth have come up with. Working with them to conquer what they feel is the biggest problem in the community has been enlightening. I have seen the kids grow tremendously as we have worked on writing their bills. This program has assured me that we have some powerful students that are going to meet the challenges of the future head-on and give valuable solutions to these challenges. ”

The YMCA hopes to expand the program to other High Schools in its service area in the fall of 2024. For more information about the YMCA’s Youth in Government program contact Tarry Kerkhoff at 812-367-2323 or tarry@tricountyymca.org.

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