The Donaldsonville Chief (Louisiana)
BATON ROUGE - Yesterday, Louisiana Youth Seminar ("LYS") delegates participated in an interactive legislative budgeting exercise in an effort to take on our nation's debt crisis. Presented by the Concord Coalition and sponsored by Fix the Debt Louisiana, this nonpartisan "Debt Busters" exercise helped high school students understand our nation's debt and make decisions about the budget as if they were Members of Congress.
"Opportunities to present to groups like LYS allow participants to learn the basics of budget reform as they encounter the same tough choices that make solving the deficit so difficult," said Phil Smith, facilitator and National Political Director of the Concord Coalition.
Fix the Debt's Louisiana State Chapter sponsored the program for the over 300 high school leaders. The students reviewed, discussed and voted on a number of policy options to reduce the deficit and balance the budget.
"Decisions made by our Congress today concerning the national debt will affect the millennial generation disproportionately," said Christian Villere, a Louisiana leader of Fix the Debt's millennial partner organization, The Can Kicks Back. "This exercise allows teens to understand our national debt while empowering them to get involved."
The "Debt Busters" exercise is just one of the leadership training skills taught during LYS, a five-day program held on LSU's campus. Sonja Pruitt-Lord, Ph.D., LYS Executive Director, explained: "We attempt to touch on a diverse set of leadership skills throughout the week. This exercise is one of the ways in which we prepare the young leaders of the future."
During the week, students participate in many activities which focus on leadership skills, such as effective communication skills, team building, problem solving, setting and achieving goals, understanding and accepting others, developing self confidence and conducting efficient meetings. LYS delegates also learn about writing and delivering speeches, running for political office, and leading parliamentary procedure.
The Louisiana Youth Seminar was established in 1971 as a summer leadership camp for high school students. Every year the Seminar is held at LSU for one week in July. This year's Seminar is this week, July 21-26, and features a record number of delegates.