Since its inception, the State YMCA of Georgia has used a variety of activities to build, encourage, and strengthen those life assets and character traits that will help teens become involved responsible adults who make a difference by becoming leaders in their communities. Our program provides middle and high school students with a school-based structured environment to develop leadership skills, understand the importance of civic responsibility, and enhance community awareness.

The State YMCA of Georgia is not a governing board of local YMCAs, nor is it a department or program of any YMCA branch in the state. Unlike a YMCA branch with a fitness center and pool, the State YMCA of Georgia serves as an independent chartered organization dedicated to providing programs and opportunities for teens.

Youth in Government Programs: One of the first tools we use is a high quality experiential and educational simulation based upon Georgia's state government. This program, accomplished by our Youth Assembly and Junior Youth Assembly, is very comprehensive, and its impact on the youth participants is dramatic. The core purpose of this highly regarded program is exemplified in the motto "Democracy Must Be Learned By Each Generation."

Teen participants take part in a three-day learning opportunity for middle and high school students designed to give participants an experience in the operation of Georgia's State Government. Held annually at the State Capitol in Atlanta. Legislators meet in committees and in the House and Senate chambers to debate legislation. Lobbyists maintain close contact with the legislative process as they support or oppose issues. Attorneys try their cases before student judges and engage in a mock trial competition.

Model United Nations: In addition to our state government models, the State YMCA also provides the Georgia United Nations Assembly (GUNA). GUNA is a simulation of the United Nations that aims to educate participants about civics, effective communication, globalization and, multilateral diplomacy. At GUNA, students participate in a simulated session of an intergovernmental organization. Participants research a country, take on roles as ambassadors, investigate international issues, debate, deliberate, consult, and then develop solutions to world problems. During this simulation they must employ a variety of communications and critical thinking skills to defend and advance the policies of their country.

Teen Leadership: The State YMCA teen leadership conferences provides opportunities for Georgia teens to come together with peers from across the state in a hands-on learning environment. During our three day conferences, teens focus on innovative opportunities to develop their character and self worth, share the thrill of empowerment, and strengthen the art of communication with their peers. Such activities instill a sense of ownership among them and help them better meet the challenges that face them daily. Participants work in a variety of settings with trained adult facilitators and YMCA staff.

A key focus of the State YMCA of Georgia is the building of friendships among its participants. During free time at conferences (which can consist of dances, games, or just relaxing) relationships are built that last a lifetime. It is extremely common for participants to refer to their "Y friends" as the best friends they ever had.

The State YMCA of Georgia programs are open to all interested middle and high school students, grades 6-12.

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