While the 2017 session of the Kentucky General Assembly may have just started, state policymakers already have some new suggestions in their inboxes thanks to students from the Kentucky YMCA Youth Assembly.
From November to December each year, middle and high school students from across the state travel to Frankfort to take part in a model state government. In total, 7,200 students this year acted in roles covering every part of the governmental process. Students acted as representatives, senators, judicial members, lobbyists, members of the executive branch members and even the media.
Bills over home school regulations, maternity leave, public school grading scales and more were debated, reviewed and examined by students during seven different three-day sessions.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Mackenzie McConnell, a junior from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Fayette County). “It’s a lot of work put into three days, but it’s a very good experience.”
A list of the bills passed by each session can be found under the “Assembly Pages” section on the Kentucky YMCA Youth Assembly’s homepage.
The bills passed and approved by the youth assembly go to a student governor, from there they’re put into a packet and presented to the Kentucky legislature.
“It’s a way to tell legislature members ‘This is what kids from your area care about and want to see done,'” said Nikkey Blackman, a state program manager with the youth assembly.
Since the program started in Kentucky in the 1930s, more than 400 actual laws have been passed based on suggestions made by the youth assembly.
“”They have to fit all of these things into three days, so a lot of work gets done,” said Blackman. “One of my favorite memories is walking behind two 6th-graders last year and hearing them say ‘I don’t know why this is so hard for adults to do.'”
Teachers interested in helping with Kentucky Youth Assembly programs at their school can find more information here.