The Iowa Department of Human Rights leads various initiatives aimed at providing youth, especially underrepresented youth historically excluded from leadership roles, an opportunity to develop leadership skills. The Department has a unique statewide responsibility to give youth a voice in government and promote the inclusion of diverse perspectives in decision making. Continue reading to learn more about these opportunities. Become involved, either as a student or a mentor!
Iowa Youth Congress meets every September and October and is a fun way for students to learn about state government. We partner with commissions serving African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Latinos, Persons with Disabilities and Deaf Iowans, to create a diverse leadership environment where youth can imagine themselves as representatives in government now and in the future.
Every October, after some preparation, students will participate in a mock congress at the State Capitol. Once the student-written bills are fully developed through debates, students discuss how their ideas could be implemented in the real world. Some students talk with their local representatives about the ideas they developed in Iowa Youth Congress. This program offers full disability access and members do not pay fees to participate.
To learn more and find out how to register, visit the Iowa Youth Congress website.
The State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council (SIYAC) is a non-partisan policy advising organization comprised of 21 youth. SIYAC’s members are young people from throughout the state who have demonstrated leadership and are interested in researching legislation that could impact Iowa’s youth. SIYAC has been active since 2001 and is in the Iowa Code. The council meets quarterly at the State Capitol and holds periodic conference calls. New council members are selected each year in June and can be between the ages of 14 and 20. Students can apply year-round to serve a two-year term. Learn more and find application materials on the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council’s website. This program offers full disability access and members do not pay fees to participate.
Through collaboration between the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women and the Girl Scouts, high school girls from across Iowa have an opportunity to travel to the State Capitol and learn about the Iowa General Assembly during the Capitol Girls event each February. If selected, these young women will have an opportunity to shadow female legislators and to learn about state government and policymaking. The day’s lunch is included in the registration fee. Interested high school women can complete an application, available at http://www.women.iowa.gov/just_for_girls/index.html and submit their application via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to 515-242-6119. Applications are due in January; due dates will be announced prior to each year’s event.
The Write Women Back into History annual essay contest celebrates Women's History Month (March) and increases awareness of the contributions made by Iowa women. Iowa youth in grades 6 through 9 may enter one essay each. Essays must relate to the year’s theme, which will be announced prior to each year’s contest. Several students will receive awards in certain categories and be honored in a special event attended by the governor. There will be cash prizes for first, second and third place.
Write Women Back into History is sponsored by the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, the Iowa Department of Education, and the State Historical Society of Iowa. Please see: http://www.women.iowa.gov/about_women/womens_history/essay_contest.html for research suggestions and more contest rules. The essay and entry form are due each January; due dates will be announced prior to each year’s contest.
This essay contest reminds others of the spirit of service upheld by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to think about how they can strengthen this spirit in their own lives. Any student in grades 1-2, 3-5 or 6-9 can participate. The contest also may serve as an education piece for teachers complimentary to curriculum for Black History Month (February). Winners from each age category are invited to an award ceremony with the Governor at the State Capitol on Martin Luther King Day. Essays are typically due one week prior to Martin Luther King Day. For more information, contact Kim Cheeks at 515-281-3274 or at email@example.com.
A weeklong leadership training program for 10th, 11th and 12th grade high school students with disabilities who have the desire to increase their leadership potential, their involvement in the community and are representative of Iowa in terms of geographic region, gender, ethnicity and disability. There is no cost for this program; students must be affiliated with either Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services or the Iowa Department for the Blind. The Youth Leadership Forum takes place in July at Iowa State University.
For more information, contact Page Eastin at 515-281-8088 or at Page.Eastin@iowa.gov.