“This was amazing!” “Completely eye opening and inspiring.” “Super fun!” “Best ever!” These are just some of the comments that sum up the reaction of the 130 teens and adults who attended TeenSpeak 2010 on January 30. This was not only the largest crowd we’ve ever had at a TeenSpeak conference, but without a doubt the most enthusiastic as well. The day began with a compelling talk by Live Action’s Lila Rose titled “Undercover at Planned Parenthood”. In her talk, Lila told about her experiences at Planned Parenthood abortion clinics across the country, where time after time, posing as a 13-year old impregnated by her much-older boyfriend, she has exposed statutory rape cover-up at Planned Parenthood. The audience found Lila’s talk very eye-opening and inspiring. Finoy Lukose, a sophomore at St. Ignatius College Prep, commented, “This talk really opened my eyes to what truly goes on at an abortion clinic, something I was unfamiliar with.” And Alexie Gillespie, a junior at Lake Zurich High School, noted, “I was so inspired by Lila by start a pro-life group in my own community.” At the conclusion of Lila’s talk, she received a standing ovationâ€”clearly, the conference was off to a great start! Since the theme of the conference was “Pro-Life Teens Take ACTION,” the next segment was devoted to three presentations that focused on specific ways teens can become more involved in the pro-life movement. John-Paul Deddens and Alicia Torres discussed involvement opportunities with Students for Life of Illinois, The Women’s Center‘s Katie Reidy talked about volunteer opportunities at pregnancy resource centers, and Pro-Life Action League Associate JT Eschbach encouraged teens to consider sidewalk counseling. All three presentations were well received. As sophomore Mia Rocha remarked, “I learned a lot from all of these talks, and they really helped me understand more about abortion.” After lunch, members of three active pro-life clubs gave brief presentations about their groups. Chrysan Tefft and Katie Wall of Rosary High School’s Lifesavers Club showcased the T-shirts they recently designed, and noted that some of their members are now part of the Teen Board for Waterleaf Women’s Center, a pregnancy resource center in Aurora that opened last fall. Katie also recommended to other teens who were interested in starting a new pro-life club that they should get a copy of GFL’s Pro-Life Curriculum. Kim Dawid and Joan Dodaro of Riverside-Brookfield High School related their experience of starting a pro-life club in their public school, and told how they have collaborated with other like-minded clubs for some of their events. Lastly, several members of Lombard-based Crusaders for Life sang a pro-life song they came up with at the March for Lifeâ€” “It’s a Life”, sung to the tune of Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life”. With enthusiasm high, my co-worker Matt Yonke gave a short talk titled, “The Anatomy of a Pro-Life T-Shirt,” in which he dissected the most common styles of pro-life T-shirts. Matt’s talk served as a great jumping-off point for TeenSpeak’s Pro-Life T-Shirt Workshop. Attendees were divided into 20 groups, and each group was given a T-shirt, a set of fabric markers, and 45 minutes to create their own pro-life T-shirt. To ramp up the competition factor, the teams were told that the winning design would be professionally printed and sold on ChristianShirts.net, and that each member of the winning team would receive one. The competition proved stiff, but in the end the judges selected this design by Angela Habisohn, Hannah McHugh, Matalyn VanderBleek, Charlotte Seidel, and Michelle Ryan as the winner: Last but not least, the TeenSpeak Essay Contest winners were announced: Second place went to Theresa Simeo of Glen Ellyn, and First Place went to Julianne Winkle of Aurora. (Look for their essays to be posted last this week.) Many peopleâ€”both teens and adultsâ€”commented that this was the best TeenSpeak they had been a part of, and they’re looking forward to next year. So am I!
- See a slideshow of pictures from TeenSpeak here.