Youth And Government

YMCA’s Youth and Government™ (YAG) Program is a national 42-state program encouraging civic engagement, civil discourse, and leadership. At the heart of the program is the belief that “democracy must be learned by each generation” and this hands-on program is a proven way to develop teens as tomorrow’s leaders.

The Arizona Youth and Government™ Program has provided outstanding experiential learning for over 75 years to youth from across the state. Youth and Government™ helps young people define the community action they wish to take, and teaches youth the legislative and judicial processes to facilitate social change. The semester-long program is hosted through several experiential virtual meetings leading students through topics such as parliamentary procedure, political parties, media, voting, bill writing, and debate policy.

The semester concludes with the Model Legislative Session, which is held annually during the first weekend in December at the Arizona State Capitol. During this capstone experience, delegates will debate their bills in the State House and Senate, run for office, write a daily newspaper, and host State Supreme Court hearings. The Arizona Youth and Government™ Program is open to all Arizona students, grades 6-12.

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For more information, or to enroll, please fill out the interest form below.

Important Information

Participants are either elected into, or assume the roles of governors, senators, representatives, lawyers, media representatives, or lobbyists. During the annual Model Legislative Session, participants are trained in debate, parliamentary procedure, the legislative committee process, media relations, and lobbying techniques. Youth will then draft bills, discuss them in committees, and debate them on the floor of the legislature.

The Model City Program offers a unique opportunity for teenagers to actively engage with municipal government and make a positive impact on their community. By working collaboratively in a dynamic team, participants tackle real challenges faced by the city and develop innovative solutions. They gain hands-on experience in local governance and public policy, while also presenting their ideas directly to City Council members. Through this program, teens develop essential life skills, deepen their understanding of civic responsibilities, and become agents of positive change. Contact your local branch’s teen director to join today or email questions to

Igniting a passion for civic engagement for youth ages 12 – 17 with an immersive Teen Enrichment Camp! With two different sessions in Summer 2023 (June 26 – 30 and July 24 – 28), from 9 am to 3 pm, Civic Summer Camp offers engaging workshops, impactful field trips, and the chance to create a civically engaged project.

Through thought-provoking discussions and interactive activities, teens gain a deeper understanding of civics and its real-world significance. Guided by experienced mentors, they collaborate with peers to make a positive impact in their community. Field trips include the Arizona State Capitol, Heard Museum, and Maricopa Count Recorder’s Office.


Dear Parents,

Welcome to the YMCA Youth and Government™ Parent’s page. We are pleased to have you and your student involved in this year’s program.

The Valley of The Sun YMCA is excited to provide this experiential learning program for the youth in your household. Our goal is to teach them the fundamentals of the local and federal government while also having fun.

Your student(s) are on the verge of a truly unique opportunity to express themselves in a safe and structured environment while practicing civil discourse. Please fill out the RSVP form with your student in order to be added to our email list. As the annual Model Legislative Session approaches, we will correspond further with you regarding important details. We appreciate your involvement and we are looking forward to getting to know you and your student.

As a nonprofit organization, the Valley of The Sun YMCA relies on donations from our community. If you are able to make a donation to help sponsor another delegate, please contact Elise Nilles at If you are a parent in need of financial assistance, please complete the form below and we will work together to ensure the program is accessible to your family.

Thank you for your active involvement. We look forward to observing your child’s growth and success over the coming year.


Valley of The Sun YMCA Youth and Government™ Team

Financial Assistance Application

Community Based Delegations

Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA Phoenix Olive Wilbanks TBD TBD
Catalina – Tucson Tucson Maryann Oda Thursday 6:00pm-8:45pm
Chandler / Gilbert Family YMCA Chandler Jillian Turner Tuesday 6:30pm-7:30pm
Desert Foothills Family YMCA Scottsdale Kelly Forkasdi  Thursday 4:00pm-5:00pm
Flagstaff Family YMCA Flagstaff Liz Hertel 

Kaleb Wamsley TBD TBD
Legacy Foundation Chris-Town YMCA Phoenix TBD  TBD  TBD  TBD
Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA Phoenix Jesus Betancourt 

Liz Hertel

Wednesday 5:30pm-6:30pm
Northwest Valley Family YMCA El Mirage Amber Johanning  Tuesday 5:00pm-6:00pm
Prescott Family YMCA Prescott Marsha Hollaway

Shena Whitmer  

Thursday 6:00pm-7:30pm
Scottsdale / P.V. Family YMCA Scottsdale Patrick Cody Monday 7:00pm-8:00pm
Southwest Valley Family YMCA Goodyear Nyara Seymore  Tuesday 5:00pm-6:00pm
Tempe Family YMCA Tempe Veronica Tolliver Tuesday 5:00pm-6:00pm
Tucson Northwest YMCA Tucson Jessica Romo Tuesday 5:00pm-6:30pm

YMCA’s Youth and Government™ (YAG) is a program providing youth with hands-on government experience. Coinciding with most academic calendars, the program runs from mid-September through December.

While there are many notable leadership programs across the country; the YMCA Youth and Government™ program is distinctly different, and is designed to not only provide a challenging academic experience but also to guide students in personal development. YAG is framed around the four core values of caring, respect, honesty, and responsibility. These values create a culture that is academically engaging and ensures that students leave our program with the understanding of the interpersonal skills necessary to succeed in all of their future endeavors.


The goals of the program include:

  •  Building an understanding of formal and informal government structures
  • Participating actively in the legislative, judicial, executive, and political processes
  • Developing confidence in and dedication to the democratic process
  • Learning participative leadership skills
  • Cultivating an appreciation for differing points of view and respect for others’ rights
  • Gaining communication and leadership skills
  • Applying moral and ethical valuing processes to public policymaking

Students will learn all of these skills and so much more through the Youth and Government™ conferences which are facilitated by trained and qualified YMCA staff and volunteers. With this guidance and support, youth are given the opportunity to find their own voice, make new friends, and have fun!

If your school is interested in sponsoring a delegation, please read and fill out our school scholarship package!

3 year grant for new schools & community partners

Where Goodness Belongs.

Youth And Government Interest Form

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Youth Government Legislative Session
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Democracy must be learned by each generation.

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