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Bringing government to the young people

Government can seem to be complicated and confusing, with decisions made hundreds of miles away having far-reaching impacts for many years.

That’s why it’s important to have regular contact with elected officials and be able to put a name and a face together, especially for young people who are just learning about the work done by legislators.

Pupils in the Edison Local School District had the chance to do just that on Oct. 18 when state Sen. Frank Hoagland, R-Mingo Junction, and state Rep. Ron Ferguson, R-Wintersville, visited school as part of the Hearts and Souls Project.

A collaboration among the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, the Ohio School Boards Association and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials, it’s an effort aimed to bring legislators into public schools. The purpose is two-fold — to show legislators that they should not make judgments about the work being done in school districts based solely on state report card results and to remind them that decisions made in the Statehouse can have a significant effect on children.

Hoagland and Ferguson had the chance to detail their responsibilities as elected officials and answer a lot of questions during their stops at Stanton and John Gregg elementary schools and Edison High School.

They explained, for instance, about the issues involved with expanding access to broadband Internet to the areas of the state where service can be spotty or nonexistent. That issue has come to the forefront during the past 18 months, as COVID restrictions forced students to learn at home, a process that requires reliable Internet service, which, sadly, is not always available.

Ferguson and Hoagland were able to offer details about what their job entails — from exactly how the 36-week legislative session works to the party make-up of the Legislature to the process a bill must follow before it becomes a law to how term limits work.

The local legislators said their jobs are rewarding, Hoagland because he can help find solutions to complex problems, and Ferguson because he has a chance to make a difference.

Having the chance to get a firsthand look at how government works is important for people of every age.

That’s happening in Ohio schools thanks to the groups behind the Hearts and Souls Project — and the efforts of legislators like Hoagland and Ferguson.

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