Last weekend (March 19-21, 2021) students from across the state of Illinois immersed themselves in all aspects of the Illinois government by assuming the roles of legislators, attorneys, executive officials, lobbyists, press members, and more in a program known as the Illinois YMCA Youth & Government. The culmination of each program year is a 3-day conference in Springfield, IL where students debate issues using the actual Illinois Capitol and Supreme Court facilities. This year's 72nd General Assembly was fully virtual.
Our delegation is diverse with 44% Latinx, 33% African-American, 11% Asian, & 11% Caucasian. 88% identifying as first-generation immigrants. "I am extremely proud to be apart of Two Rivers Y where we create opportunities for upward mobility and empower students to break generational cycles!" said Daisy Moran, Director of Youth Achievement & Community Engagement at the Two Rivers YMCA
Day One of the General Assembly
Illinois YMCA Youth & Government was honored to have IL House Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch, the first Black Illinois House Speaker, as our keynote speaker! The honorable speaker of the house spoke about students overcoming adversity, the intersectionality of social issues, & empowering students to be change-makers! "You can not be what you can not see" Thank you for being a role model to our Illinois students!
Day Two of the General Assembly
Carlos Martinez has been a member of the student steering committee assisting Julie Kapsch, program director, in designing this year's program! He also was selected as a committee chair for legislative sessions. Carlos won Illinois region two Lt. Governor Candidate but unfortunately lost the elections at the General Assembly to a candidate from one of the largest delegations in the program. Carlos debated his bill he wrote on "Broadband Infrastructure". His bill passed the committee session, however, due to a family emergency and could not debate his bill on the House & Senate floor therefore the bill failed and did not get signed by the student Governor. In the future, Carlos plans to attend college, continue his volunteer work, and intern for an elected official to learn more about what they do daily and how they fulfill their constituents’ needs. In the long term, Carlos aspires to be the first Latinx Governor of Illinois!
Day three of the General Assembly
First-year Legislative Assistant, Simra Babu - Sophomore at Moline High School, wrote her State Issues proposal on steps Illinois can make to make medical prescriptions and devices more accessible and affordable to all, measures should be taken to reduce the overall prices of these necessities. Simra debated in three separate rounds to be one of the three finalists out of 83 students across the state of Illinois and WON FIRST PLACE AT THE FINAL FORUM! This is an amazing achievement especially for a first time year student in the Illinois Youth & Government Program and coming from one of the smallest delegations in the program! (Average size is 50-100)