Girls State is first step to a lifetime of being involved

Published 10:45 pm Thursday, June 14, 2012

There’s a little bit of politicking and a whole lot of learning taking place at Troy University this week – and we couldn’t be more excited.

More than 300 high school junior girls are participating in Girls State. Sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, the week-long program offers hands-on citizenship training for young leaders. Through a mock governmental system – from statewide offices to municipal employees – the participants in Girls State are immersed in the activities and workings of our democracy. And they learn about everything from the sharing of ideas to the give-and-take of compromise necessary to implement change and growth.

Along the way, they are privvy to insights and advice shared by leaders such as U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., who encouraged the participants earlier this week to continue serving the public throughout their lives.

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Girls State, and its American Legion-sponsored counterpart Boys State, have been identifying, inspiring and develop young leaders for decades. The teach the fundamentals of democracy and the importance of participation and involvement. When adults or parents shake their heads in worry about the “plugged in and tuned out” generation of teens who wield cell phones with equal aplomb, they need look only at the participants at Girls State for a true measure of this generation’s potential. These young women are bright; articulate; engaged; and eager to learn and make a difference.

Their futures are limited only by the possibilities they imagine. And today, while they line up as governors and mayors, in 10 years they may be PTO volunteers or business leader, public servants or civic organizers. And we suspect no matter the path they chose, the lessons learned at Girls State and the inspiration it provided will influence their lives and their impact on their communities.

And, if their political skills continue to grow, we might just have a future governor or president in our midst.