Public Policy Institute to convene American Youth Congress March 20

CULLOWHEE – More than 200 students from the western half of North Carolina will have their voices heard on a variety of issues facing local, state and federal governments when they convene in a youth assembly Saturday, March 20, in Asheville.

Organized by Western Carolina University’s Public Policy Institute, the fourth annual American Youth Congress is open to a limited number of students in grades 8 through 12 from public and private schools.

“We want to help the region’s middle and high school students become more aware of local, state and federal issues and the decisions our public officials must make,” said Gordon Mercer, director of the Public Policy Institute. “This is a unique opportunity for students to get directly involved in helping solve problems through passing simulated government legislation and engaging in debate on the proposed legislation.”

Scheduled speakers include Asheville Mayor Charles Worley; Jim Buchanan, associate editor of the editorial page of the Asheville Citizen-Times; Jim Westbrook, Asheville city manager; and Vera Guise, co-president of the Western North Carolina Women’s Coalition.

Organizers of the young congress, to be held at the Asheville Civic Center, are encouraging participating students to contact local, state and federal government officials and gather information for their simulated legislation. Among the topics on the agenda will be planning for growth, economic development, citizen involvement, educational improvements, the environment, health and human services, foreign policy and homeland security.

Participants in the event who have signed up so far include students from:

Buncombe County – Asheville High, Enka Middle, Enka High, Erwin High and North Buncombe High schools, the Orton Academy, and Asheville Parks and Recreation programs.

Cabarrus County – Northwest Cabarrus Middle School.

Cleveland County – Burns High School.

Haywood County – Pisgah and Tuscola high schools.

Henderson – North Hendersonville Middle School.

Macon County – The L.B.J. Job Corps.

Madison County – Madison High School.

Qualla Boundary – Cherokee High School.

Stanly County – South Stanly High School.

For more information about the American Youth Congress, contact the Public Policy Institute at (828) 227-2086.