TeenSpeak 2012 our Best Yet
Josh Brahm speaks at the TeenSpeak conference [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
“I loved it!”
These are just some of the positive reactions of the more than 140 teens and adults who attended TeenSpeak 2012 on January 28 at the Doubletree Hotel in Oak Brook, Illinois—the largest crowd we’ve ever had at a TeenSpeak conference!
Brahm: Focus on the Unborn Child’s Humanity
The day began with an engaging and enthusiastic talk entitled “Making Abortion Unthinkable: The Art of Pro-Life Persuasion,” by Right to Life of Central California’s Josh Brahm. Drawing from his experience as one of few pro-life speakers to formally debate leaders from organizations like Planned Parenthood, Josh emphasized the need to “focus like a laser beam” on the humanity of the unborn child when talking with someone who sees nothing wrong with abortion.
The audience loved Josh’s talk. High school student Sadie Huddleston remarked, “This talk truly brought out the issue of abortion and clearly informed me of ways to approach and how to answer pro-choicers.” Shea Mahoney commented, “I really liked how he showed us a way to revert any argument back to the question: What is the unborn?”
Abby Johnson Inspires
The next speaker was Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life activist, who shared her amazing conversion story. She also advised the teens, “Never let anyone tell you that you are too young to be part of the prolife movement,” and encouraged them to embrace the virtue of chastity.
Abby’s talk was very well received. Stephanie Luviano commented, “I was amazed at her bravery for sharing her experience and turning away from sin.” Taylor Pokryfke said, “Her story inspires me to reach out to my pro-choice friends and help them see the truth. She also helped me find beauty in modesty.”
Following Abby’s talk, Josh Brahm gave a second talk: “Nine Faulty Pro-Life Arguments and Tactics.” Joe Daly remarked that this talk was “enlightening and practical,” and Yong Jin Yi commented, “It gave me many tools I can use to persuade the opposition.”
Teens Compete on Bumper Sticker Design
Next, the League’s Matt Yonke gave a brief PowerPoint presentation on the design principles behind a good pro-life bumper sticker, by way of launching TeenSpeak’s Pro-Life Bumper Sticker Workshop. We’ve conducted similar workshops at the last three TeenSpeak conferences—on pro-life t-shirts, protest signs and buttons—and they’ve always received tremendously positive feedback.
The teens were divided into 20 groups, each provided with two bumper sticker templates, a pencil, a set of markers, and 40 minutes to create their own pro-life button design. To ramp up the competition factor, the teams were told that the winning design would be professionally printed by ChristianShirts.net.
Eric Scheidler and Matt Yonke selected the top four finalists, and the teens voted for their favorite: a design created by Emily Coronado, Taylor Marsh, Chris Crocco, Frances Crocco, Kelly Hayes, Matt Wanda, Margaret Schuhriemen, Clare Dempsey and Mason Fiascone.
Looking Forward to TeenSpeak 2013
Our program concluded with awards for the winners of the TeenSpeak Essay Contest. second place went to Matalyn VanderBleek, a senior at Morrison High School, and first place to Warren D’Souza, a senior at Niles North High School.
We were thrilled that so many teens have given us thoroughly positive feedback on the conference and have said they’re really looking forward to next year. So am I!
Generations for Life Shares the Pro-Life Message
John Jansen gives a chastity talk in Byron, IL [Photo by Beth Hildreth]
The spring semester of 2012 has brought with it many opportunities to share the pro-life and chastity message with teens and to broaden the scope of GFL’s youth outreach efforts.
On January 14, I was invited by Brother Chad McCoy of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius to speak to the youth group at St. Peter’s Parish in Volo, Illinois. I gave my “Making the Case for Life” talk to a standing-room only audience, and the group was generous enough to provide me with plenty of pizza before I had to head home.
A few days after our TeenSpeak conference (see story, above), I gave a chastity presentation to the Confirmation class at St. Mary’s Parish in Byron, Illinois. The talk was very well received, and I was grateful for the positive feedback I received from Beth Hildreth, the parish’s director or religious education, who had arranged the talk.
GFL Strengthens Ties with NFCYM
From February 9-11, I had the privilege of attending the annual membership meeting of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM) in Houston, Texas. I attended numerous planning sessions and had the opportunity to meet several directors of diocesan youth ministry offices and share the work of Generations for Life with them.
Following the meeting, I was honored to be asked to write a catechetical session on the topic of abortion for the NFCYM’s book Affirming Life, due to be published in 2013.
On February 28, I gave my “Pro-Life 101” talk to the Human Development classes at Proviso West High School in Hillside, Illinois for the eighth consecutive year. Many students offered positive comments on the evaluation forms I distributed afterwards.
During the month of March I gave two presentations: a chastity talk to seventh graders at Notre Dame Parish in Clarendon Hills, Illinois on March 18, and “Making the Case for Life” to eighth graders at St. Joseph Parish in Lockport, Illinois on March 25. Then, on April 29, I returned to St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lake Zurich, Illinois to give a chastity talk to high school sophomores preparing for Confmation. All three talks were very well received.
A few days later, on May 1, I was invited by a small group of young ladies and their mothers to give a talk on chastity at a home in Downers Grove, Illinois. Although I have previously taught at an all-girls’ high school, this was the first time in my eight years working at Generations for Life that I have given a talk to an all-female audience—a grateful opportunity for me as the father of three daughters, aged 6, 8, and 9.
Equipping Teen Pro-Life Leaders
Rounding out the school year, I had the privilege of speaking at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Gurnee, Illinois, on June 1 at the very first meeting of a new pro-life club of 20 teens from northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin. I gave my “Pro-Life 101” talk, shared with them numerous ideas and activities for their club, and presented them with a copy of GFL’s Pro-Life Club Curriculum. I’m happy to report they’re off to a great start!
Please keep the work of Generations for Life in your prayers as we continue to receive such great opportunities to share the pro-life message and raise up a new generation of pro-life leaders.