Youth Leading Debate
Youth Leading Debate


Youth Leading Debate (YLD) is a global dialogue and debate program for young people, age 18-24, who are interested in learning the art of policy debate, developing political leadership skills, debating pressing community issues and increasing their capacity to contribute to policy reform on the local and national level. The YLD Program and Instruction manuals are designed to help democracy and governance practitioners integrate policy debate into youth programs. The program curriculum and technical guidance is grounded in experiential learning and builds critical soft skills, such as higher-order thinking, positive self-concept and empathy. Young people also have the opportunity to build on existing levels of activism by strengthening their political analysis skills and building networks with their peers at the local and national level to work more collectively and strategically. For these young activists, debates can be a vital platform to increase public awareness of their priorities, build political relationships and inform direct action that shapes the development of the country.

Primary Activities

  • Policy Dialogues: this activity provides an opportunity for young people to identify issues that matter to them, including issues shared across different populations; gain more information about each topic through engagement with topical experts; and participate in a practical workshop to think through policy proposals for the identified issues.
  • Debate Instruction Camps: the “camps” utilize a bootcamp-style debate training, facilitated by an experienced debate instructor and youth facilitators, that introduces young people to the fundamentals of debate such as researching a topic, constructing arguments, writing and delivering debate speeches, forming teams and competing in debate competitions.
  • Regional and National Debate Competitions: competitions provide participants with a platform to demonstrate their skills in front of their peers, local elected officials, topical experts and community members.


on Youth Debates

Youth Leading Debate: National Tournament



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