Voters in Training

Educational program in citizenship that introduces young people to exercising democracy

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Montréal
CA Canada
Web http://www.electeursenherbe.com/
Maturity

Mature

About the project Edit

Voters in training is a non-partisan education in citizenship program whose aim is to introduce young people to how democracy and our democratic institutions work. The project organizes fun and educational activities in high schools, youth centres and youth organizations that simulate real federal, provincial, municipal and school election campaigns.

Objectives:

• Get young people interested in news and politics in order to create a positive impact on their civic engagement and future voting
• Familiarize young people with our electoral process and political institutions and make them aware of the role that citizens can play in our democratic society
• Allow students to structure opinions, develop critical thinking and participate in a public debate
• Provide electoral experience through voting simulation

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Voters in Training encourages young people get informed and develop their critical thinking before going to the polls. The project incites them to become informed, critical, engaged and active citizens within their communities.

During the project’s development, educational activities allow young people to learn about election platforms and to familiarize themselves with the various political parties’ programs and candidates in their ridings. As well, they discover how a real election works by organizing a mock election to exercise their “right to vote”.

Based on real life, Voters in Training provides an enriching and memorable tangible experience for young people. Fun while instructional, the program allows future voters to discover the importance of democracy, news issues, express their points of view and to be heard. Thanks to the proposed activities, students can initiate themselves by reading different newspapers, participating in debates, organizing meetings with candidates, writing letters to the editor or conducting a survey. Students are supported through an original five-step original educational process: gather information, interpret the data, compare points of view, debate the issue and come to a decision.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

In a healthy democracy, citizens understand their political system, have the desire to become informed, are empowered to form their own opinions, to express them, and exercise their right to vote. They play a role in the functioning of democracy by participating in the vote. This project aims to develop the civic competences of future voters and raising their awareness of the advantages of participating in democratic life. The Voters In Training project is a stimulating and rewarding educational activity that increases young people’s awareness. It is a unique opportunity to interest young people to current events and politics, to focus on the history of our political and democratic institutions and to develop their civic competences. This program fills the educational system’s need to integrate citizenship and education within the curriculum. It also helps change the image that young people hold of politics and counteract political disengagement. This project therefore helps increase civic and voter participation of young people. Experiences with similar projects in the US have shown that this type of program sharpens critical thinking and has a positive effect on participants’ future civic and voter participation.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Voters in Training has had a dazzling expansion since it’s beginning in 2001 and has become one of the most popular academic and extracurricular activities in Quebec. In each edition, Voters in Training was well received by teachers as well as community workers and young people enjoyed the experience as well. This program is offered free of charge everywhere in Quebec, in English and in French (under the name Électeurs en herbe). It is aimed at teenagers, but can also be carried out in the 3rd cycle of primary school. After 7 editions, over 150 000 youth have taken part in its different activities and 120 000 have taken part in the mock elections. Activities were held in over 600 schools, youth centers and youth organizations in every region of Quebec.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

In the last 20 years, there has been an observed lowering trend of voter participation. This disinterest is particularly apparent among young people who find the democratic process less appealing than their elders. This innovative project aims to counteract political disengagement by introducing young people to the world of politics during their school years, even before they are granted the right to vote. The Forum jeunesse de l’île de Montreal and its partners created the Voters in Training to increase voter and civic participation among young people at a time when young adults are voting less and less and avoiding politics more and more. With this in mind, we developed Voters in Training, a unique project that give young people the opportunity to follow a real elections campaign and participate in a mock election.

What is the business model of this project? Edit

The Voters in Training program was made possible by the financial contributions of the Secrétariat à la jeunesse du gouvernement du Québec and the Directeur général des Élections du Québec. Led by the Forum jeunesse de l’île de Montreal, Voters in Training was created thanks to the combined efforts of the Quebec’s regional Forums jeunesse régionaux du Québec and the contributinos of Secrétariat à la jeunesse, the Directeur général des élections du Québec, the Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec, the Centre de développement pour l’exercice de la citoyenneté et the Regroupement des maisons de jeunes du Québec. It is important to note that, within the framework of federal elections, we coutn on the participation of Elections Canada through our pan-canadian sister organization, Student Vote. During election campaigns, Voters in Training also depends on the participation of municipal, academic, union, and community partners.


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