Youth Learn About Their Local Government
This story features a “podcast” (downloadable audio recording) of the session.
Please see a link to a complete audio podcast of this panel session on the right under “Documents and Resources.”
PowerPoint presentations from Gerardo Mouet is also available.
The 2009 League of California Cities’ Annual Conference offered a lively session on public engagement that highlighted the civic education of youth, a citizens academy for Cantonese speakers, and the new role of civic engagement manager in two California cities.
Organized by the Institute for Local Government, Innovations in Resident Civic Education and Engagement: From Citizen Academies to Sustained Community Engagement, featured Gerardo Mouet, the Executive Director of Santa Ana’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Agency.
Gerardo Mouet spoke first and described the Santa Ana “Youth in Local Government” program. Inspired by a YMCA youth leadership program that involves teens in state government, the Santa Ana City Council decided to create a similar program to involve teens in city government. Coordinated by Gerardo, thirty-five high school juniors participated in eight weekly seminars that described how the city operates, how policy is made, how problems are solved, and how residents become elected city officials.
Teens were paired with city staff “coaches” and created a mock city council. Roe playing elected and staff roles, the young invited parents and friends to these mock council meetings where they debated real issues relevant to young people. “Learning and breaking barriers to city hall is the objective, but it is important to have fun in order to reach teens; and don’t underestimate the power of food” Mouet advised.