Mighty Blog

A visit to the Minnesota Capitol: Two students meet with legislators to effect change

Earlier this Spring, Children’s Minnesota brought a group of students from its Youth Advisory Council (YAC) to visit the Minnesota State Capitol and talk with legislators on issues that are important to them. Read more about the firsthand experiences of two of those members: Addison and Lyla, both high school students at the time of the visit.

Addison’s experience

I was thrilled to learn about the opportunity to visit the State Capitol. I’ve been on the YAC for the Children’s Minnesota health care system for two years. As a senior in high school, I’m sad I won’t be able to continue with YAC next year. YAC meetings occur every second Saturday of the month, and members can express their opinions on improving the hospital for patients, workers, families, and more. I’ve voiced many concerns about the medical side of the hospital’s operation, but learning about and influencing the political and legal aspects was a refreshing and impactful experience.

I have learned a lot in school about the U.S. and Minnesota governments; however, visiting the State Capitol was eye-opening as a hands-on learner. The visit was scheduled for Wednesday, so most YAC members couldn’t make it. Despite our smaller group, we met at the Capitol on the morning of the 24th. I was in awe of the building’s exterior, having seen it many times but never up close. The inside was even more incredible. Surprisingly, the Capitol was very quiet when we arrived. I always assumed government buildings were bustling, so seeing it so still was mind-blowing. We later learned the legislature had a delayed start that morning.


Two Children’s Minnesota employees who work on the health care system’s advocacy team guided us through the day. First, we received a quick overview of how the government works, its impact on Children’s Minnesota, how bills are passed, and the importance of the hospital’s involvement with the government. Afterward, multiple lawmakers, legislators, and representatives came to talk to our group. We had some fantastic conversations, and it was empowering to feel heard. As a teenager, my opinions and ideas were often brushed off, but here, I felt valued.

Following this session, the Children’s employees gave us a personal tour. By then, the Capitol was getting busier and louder by the minute. I couldn’t stop admiring the details of the walls, ceilings, rooms, lights, staircases, balconies, and more. Everywhere I looked, there was something beautiful and significant. We learned more about the Capitol building itself and its day-to-day operations. Seeing how fast everything moved compared to the quiet stillness when we first arrived was fascinating.

By the end of the day, I left the Capitol feeling empowered and in awe of everything I saw, our conversations, and the beautiful building itself. The experience was truly unforgettable and inspiring.

Lyla - Youth Advisory Council member

Lyla’s experience

I was very excited to receive the news of this opportunity, because I’ve always loved the government and U.S systems. I’ve been on YAC for two years, and have enjoyed every meeting I’ve attended, from bringing hot chocolate and cookies around the hospital floors, to getting the opportunity to be on the news. I was actually recommended for the council through one of my lifetime nurses, because I love sharing my views on ways the hospital can improve through the patients’ perspective. But seeing how bigger issues for state or even country-sized problems was an eventful and very impactful experience.

As a lover of history and a connoisseur of architecture, I couldn’t believe the halls of the Capitol and the exterior of the building. The beautiful windows and frankly extravagant sculptures on the outside were breathtaking, not even mentioning the utterly jaw dropping art on the inside. I had never been to the Capitol, outside or otherwise. But while I waited in the foyer for the other attendees, I couldn’t stop looking.

There were only four of us volunteers who could make it, plus a few Children’s Minnesota employees. Like what Addison had said, I had expected the building to be loud and busy, with workers everywhere. But that wasn’t the case, it was actually very quiet and tranquil, enough our voices could echo off the walls.

Though our group was small, we had fantastic conversations with the representatives we met. We met Rep. Kaohly Vang Her first, and we were able to learn what her job held, and how she decided to become a representative. After she left, we were able to meet Rep. Heather Edelson, another representative. She spoke with us for a while, along with her intern. We were able to talk in detail about some things us volunteers experience with health care. Most things we brought up were to do with access to bathrooms and accessibility in our schools.

Surprisingly, some things we said had actually shocked Rep. Edelson, so much so she stayed while we met with Sen. Alice Mann. We told them about bathroom breaks being restricted in ways that impacted the health of all students, including classmates who were menstruating and not allowed to go to the bathroom. They were both appalled, and frustrated. Seeing higher-ups and people who could actually take a stand on what we experience, and them being as frustrated as we were was something I couldn’t have expected. After talking with both representatives about potential solutions, they left for their duties, and the group went around the Capitol.

It had gotten busy while we were talking, and there were now other tours looking around as well. We got to see into some meeting rooms, and into the underground areas of the Capitol. I was blown away with the art and architecture. The balconies, statues, art pieces, stories, sheer design, and even the stories on the walls were absolutely mind blowing. I can’t even describe it with words, it was so beautiful.

I left this experience feeling empowered and heard in a way I have never felt before. And I am so glad I was able to meet people that were as passionate as I was. I will never forget this experience, and I will continue to carry everything I saw and learned forever.