One may need to be 18 to vote in the United States, but to begin understanding and practicing the intricacies of governmental processes, youth are the driving force.

Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA Youth and Government Delegates returned recently from a three-day Model Legislature & Court in Sacramento. The trip marked an end to the program year, which is a six-month learn-by-doing experience. By bringing together a cross-section of California's high school students, delegates are given the opportunity to experience government first-hand; and how to solve community problems through the democratic process. They also learn how to debate and discuss issues with their peers.

“Youth and Government has supported me unconditionally, accepted me for my honest and true self, and has taught me that I, and everyone around me, has a voice that deserves to be heard,” said local resident and Delegation Treasurer, Madison Johnson.

“Youth and Government has provided numerous opportunities for me to gain confidence in leadership and public speaking. It has been the most fun and beneficial experience of my high school career,” said Alex Elliott, Youth and Government Delegation president.

Lisa André is the Lifestyle Editor for the Santa Ynez Valley News. You can follow her on twitter @LAndreSYVNews

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