LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- More than 600 high school students met on Saturday in Louisville to discuss the importance of civic engagement and advocacy.

The Kentucky YMCA's Youth Assembly (KYA) allows students to serve as part of a model state government. Students spoke about a variety of issues, how to develop critical thinking skills and ways to articulate their beliefs.

The goal is to engage constructively with their peers from all around the commonwealth. Students from 22 high schools in Kentucky attended the event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Many of the students started KYA when they were in middle school.

"It taught me leadership skills how to speak in front of people, just the importance of being a strong leader within my school," Pauli Hancock, a student representative, said.

Gov. Andy Beshear, who participated in KYA as a high school student, was the keynote speaker at the event.

"What a great program, where you all are coming together to tackle some of the biggest issues we face in this commonwealth," Beshear said to the students. 

Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.