Youth and Government (YAG) provides students the opportunity to experience the democratic process and develop the leadership skills needed to become citizens of a participatory society. Based on the motto “Democracy Must Be Learned By Each Generation,” Youth and Government is a nationwide program that involves more than thousands of youth each year.  Missouri YAG is for grades 7-12 each year. Illinois YAG is for grades 9-12 each year. 


  • Icon: government Student-Driven Simulation of Government
  • Icon: love Creates Change
  • Icon: leadership Develops Leadership Skills
  • Icon: helping hands Inspires Future Ready Citizens
  • Icon: confidence Builds Self-Confidence

Youth and Government promotes:

  • 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
  • Appreciation for the diversity of viewpoints on public issues and a respect for ideas, beliefs and the positions of others
  • Demonstration of citizenship responsibilities and leadership roles  essential to the health of a participatory democracy

Students can register with their school advisor or at their local YMCA.

The Gateway Region YMCA is proud to partner with the following schools and community organizations to offer Youth & Government:

Althoff Catholic High School

Belleville East High School

Belleville West High School

Bryan Middle School

Carnahan High School of the Future

Carr Lane VPA Middle School

Central Middle School- Riverview Gardens

Central Junior High School- Belleville

Chaminade College Preparatory School

Cherokee Recreation Center

Cor Jesu Academy

Emgee Junior High School

Fort Zumwalt West High School

Francis Howell Central High School

Francis Howell High School

Freeburg High School

Freeburg Middle School

Governor French Academy

Hazelwood Central Middle School

Hazelwood East High School

Hazelwood North Middle School

Hazelwood Southeast Middle School

Innovative Concept Academy

Kirkwood High School


LaSalle Middle School

Lindbergh High School

Maplewood Richmond Heights High School

Marquette High School

Mascoutah High School

Mascoutah Middle School

Missouri State Alliance of YMCAs

Northwest Academy of Law

O’Fallon Township High School

Parkway South High School

Parkway South Middle School

Pathways High School

Rockwood Summit High School

Rosati-Kain High School

St. Dominic High School

St. Joseph's Academy

St. Louis City Board of Aldermen

St. Louis Department of Playtime and Recreation

St. Louis Priory High School

St. Louis Public Library

St. Louis University High School

St. Louis University School of Law

Sumner High School

Timberland High School

Trinity Catholic High School

University City High School

Visitation Academy

Washington High School

West Junior High School

Yeatman-Liddell Middle School

If your school would like to participate in the Youth and Government program please complete the Letter of Program Interest and email to Caitlyn Dorion at

Beginning in the fall of each year, students come together in their local delegations to choose their roles and prepare for the State Convention. Delegations meet at schools and YMCAs across the Gateway Region. At the YAG State Convention, students create their version of state government under the guidelines of their state Constitution. All YAG participants come together for a three-day event at their State Capitol. Legislators meet in committees and in the House and Senate chambers to debate legislation. Attorneys try their cases before student judges and engage in a moot trial competition. The entire event is covered by a student newspaper, published four times in three days, and by a student television news program that airs several times each day. Participants also engage in campaigns and elections for officers who will serve during the following year.


Students in the Legislature turn the ideas of youth into formal laws by writing, debating, and voting on legislation according to specific rules and procedures. 

Legislative Leadership

In addition to the elected student leadership, there are a number of leadership positions available for students in the Legislative program. These positions include:

  • Presiding Officer (Speaker of the House or Lieutenant Governor)
  • Floor Leader
  • Secretary
  • Reading Clerk
  • Sergeant-At-Arms
  • Chaplain
  • Committee Chairpersons

Legislative Preparation

Participants in the Legislative program are responsible to take necessary action to determine an area of needed state legislation — a new law, resolution, or constitutional amendment that creates, amends, and/or repeals statutes within the framework of the law. Participants then must construct and submit their complete legislative efforts in proper form and compile information to support the proposed legislation.

Each legislator must author a bill. Representatives may co-author a bill, however, there is a limit of two authors per bill. Senators may not co-author bills. Each legislator must submit a proposed piece of legislation to the State Office on or before the deadline date in order to attend the State Convention.

Legislative Eligibility

Students in grades 9-12 are eligible to participate in the Legislative program.

  1. Participants must complete the Student Registration Form on the YAG website by the stated deadline to participate at the State Convention. MO YAG website, IL YAG website
  2. Delegation Directors will assign legislators to a specific chamber.
  3. No bill may have more than two authors. Senators may not co-author bills. Novice House legislators may only co-author with other Novice House legislators.
  4. Legislators may only author or co-author one bill. The same bill may not be submitted by more than one legislator in a delegation, or two if co-authoring.
  5. Each legislator must submit a bill using the online form on the YAG website on or before the stated deadline date in order to attend the State Convention.

The goal of the Judicial Program is to expose youth to the judicial process, from participation in trials as attorneys and witnesses to developing leadership skills through mentoring and serving as Judges in those trials. The focus of the students’ work during the fall is on learning and practicing the various parts of a trial, and developing the case you work on throughout the semester.

Judicial Preparation

The Judicial program requires preparation before the State Convention on the part of each student in order to be successful. When you come to the State Convention, you need to be well prepared to try the case that you have been working on during the semester, and also to prepare and try a second case in a trial competition during the State Convention. This Judicial Program handbook provides you with an explanation of how the program works, an overview of the parts of a trial, and tips for preparing your case. Above all, our goal for you is to learn about the judicial process while having fun.

Judicial Eligibility

Any student in 9-12 grade is eligible to participate in the Judicial Program.

  1. Participants must complete the Student Registration Form on the YAG website by the stated deadline to participate at the State Convention. MO YAG website, IL YAG website
  2. Students must work with a trial team in their delegation to prepare the proper trial brief.
  3. Trial briefs must be filed by the stated deadline in the appropriate format.

The goal of the Media/Print Press Program is to provide students with an opportunity to understand the role of media in a democracy. Print Press participants engage in the writing, interviewing, commentary, editing, layout, photography, graphics, production, and circulation of a newspaper.

Print Media Preparation

The Print Press Program demands individual initiative and responsibility. Members work as part of a newspaper staff. The structure of the program mirrors those of a newspaper and individuals are assigned to cover the functions. These areas include:

  • Management: story assignment and editing.
  • Developing articles and reporting: interviewing, covering activities, events, individuals, and issues, as assigned by editors and Program Coordinators.
  • Graphics and layout: creating headlines, overall layout, artwork, and graphics.
  • Photography: providing photo coverage to record the State Convention.
  • Production: printing, collating, and distributing the newspapers.

Print Eligibility

Participants are chosen from those who register by the following guidelines:

  1. Participants must complete the Student Registration Form on the YAG website by the stated deadline to participate at the State Convention. MO YAG website, IL YAG website
  2. Participants are responsible for staying informed of local, regional, and statewide YAG activities. It is also recommended that they develop contacts with local news media and inform them of their local YAG delegation.
  3. Print Press Program members must meet all deadlines set by editors and Program Coordinators.
  4. The number of participants in the Print Press Program is limited to forty.

Is there a cost associated with the program?
Each convention does have a fee; however, the Gateway Region YMCA has scholarship funding available to ensure that everyone is able to experience the program, the cost will never be a barrier for participation.

When and where is the Missouri State Convention typically held?
Missouri’s program is split into two conventions due to the number of participants, with the first convention in November and the second in December. They are both held in Jefferson City. Advisors will inform students which convention they will attend.

When and where is the Illinois State Convention typically held?
The Illinois Convention is held every year in March in Springfield.