It seems that plenty of people are frustrated by the actions of local, state and national government these days, but far too few are willing and able to get involved and try to make things better.
That’s a trend that American Legion posts and their auxiliaries across Kansas continue to fight each year through the Kansas Boys State and Sunflower Girls State programs that are being held this week. Kansas University welcomed about 250 Kansas high school seniors-to-be to the Girls State program on Sunday. Boys State, which moved from KU to Kansas State University about 20 years ago, also got under way on Sunday.
The goal of both programs is to educate teens about the workings of government so they can be active and involved participants in the democratic system. Whether they later run for public office, participate in election campaigns or simply cast well-informed ballots, they should leave Boys State and Girls State with a new appreciation for the governmental system that plays such an important part in our lives.
Unfortunately, like the American Legion groups that sponsor these events, participation in Boys State and Girls State has dwindled in recent years. The number of girls at this year’s event is less than half the peak of 573 delegates who attended the 1994 session. Boys State officials report an enrollment of 470 this year, which is up about 30 from last year but well below the 1,000-plus delegates who attended at the height of the program.
Whatever the reasons — competition from other activities, a declining financial ability of groups to sponsor participants or other factors — it’s too bad that more Kansas youngsters don’t have the opportunity for the government training provided by Boys State and Girls State. They still are great programs, and KU should be proud of its continuing involvement.
There certainly has been no decline in the need for intelligent, well-motivated people to get involved in all levels of government. We hope the participants in this year’s Boys State and Girls State programs have a great week that leaves them energized and ready to share the valuable lessons they have learned.