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Legislators’ video helps kids understand how government works

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PHOENIX – Leaders of today are reaching out to potential leaders of tomorrow with a DVD explaining to kids how Arizona’s government works.

The two-hour video, timed with the state’s centennial, features state lawmakers, Gov. Jan Brewer, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and others.

“Kids and the Capitol: The Arizona Legislative Centennial Civics Project” will be distributed to every school in the state as well as libraries and community centers.

“We care about the future of Arizona, but we can only be here for so long due to various reasons,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D–Phoenix, who joined other legislative leaders Thursday to introduce the video. “We need future leaders to come into the pipeline.”

“How do we involve our students?” said House Speaker Andy Tobin, R–Paulden. “Let’s have the Legislature reach out to our kids.”

Four students won places in the video by writing essays on government and auditioning. They explain how bills make their way through the Legislature.

“I thought government was kind of a bit boring, and then I started to do it,” said Parker Schroeder, a seventh-grader at Imagine Prep at Superstition, an Apache Junction charter school. “I realized how much more fun it is.”

Organizers included kids so the video would reach out to students on a more personal level, said Dawn Wallace, the House majority policy adviser who directed the initiative.

“How do kids learn? They learn from each other,” Wallace said. “They’ll pay attention if it’s kids.”

Several philanthropic organizations provided the $24,000 needed to produce the video and distribute more than 15,000 DVDs, she said.

Legislators present lessons on subjects including the three branches of government, direct democracy and the state budget. The video also features interviews with Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Attorney General Tom Horne and other elected officials.

While schools aren’t required to show the video, Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, D–Tempe, said he hopes teachers will use it to ignite enthusiasm for government service.

“As a former educator, the best way to really get a lesson through is to make something real,” he said, “and so what’s great about this video is these are the real people who are actually down here, active and involved.”