Democracy is more than a spectator sport; for it to survive and flourish, we all must become active, engaged citizens. This is the message I heard from 86 students representing 12 Quad City-area high schools, who recently participated in the Close Up Foundation government-studies program in Washington, D.C.

For a full week, these youth had unique opportunities to develop a better understanding of our democratic process. History, government, and current issues came alive for them through meetings with congressional leaders, political advisors, and journalists. In addition, they learned from other Close Up participants from across the nation through daily debates and discussions.

Most important, they returned home with a deeper awareness of their responsibilities as citizens and the realization that a single individual can make a difference. Their newfound enthusiasm for involvement in our system of democracy is to be admired.

The Close Up experience was made possible through the efforts of local educators and parents, and the financial support of the Alcoa Foundation, American Express Foundation, John Deere Foundation, and Wal-Mart Foundation. In addition, U.S. Representative Jim Leach provided fellowships for students from throughout his district. On behalf of Close Up, I commend the dedication of the Davenport community, and look forward to working with you for many years to come.

Eric Adydan,
Quad City Coordinator,
Close Up Foundation

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