Josh Brahm talks to teens about pro-life apologetics [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
“Phenomenal!” “Absolutely fantastic!” “I loved it!”
These are just some of the comments that sum up the reaction of the more than 140 teens and adults who attended TeenSpeak 2012, the youth program of SpeakOut Illinois, held on January 28 at the Doubletree Hotel in Oak Brook, Illinois. That’s the largest crowd we’ve ever had at a TeenSpeak conference!
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 who has formally debated leaders from “pro-choice” organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, 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, “It was so informative! 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 exhorts the teens to stay chaste [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
The next speaker was Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life activist who shared her amazing story of conversion. She also advised the teens, “Never let anyone tell you that you are too young to be part of the pro-life 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, “She is an amazing woman! 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.”
Pro-life students learn to defend their beliefs [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
Following Abby’s talk, Josh Brahm gave his second talk of the day: “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.”
Next, my co-worker Matt Yonke gave a short PowerPoint presentation in which he explained the principles of design that go into making a good pro-life bumper sticker. Matt’s talk served as a great jumping-off point for TeenSpeak’s Pro-Life Bumper Sticker Workshop. We’ve conducted similar workshops at the last three TeenSpeak conferences, and they’ve received tremendously positive feedback over the years. This year’s Bumper Sticker Workshop was no exception.
Teens compete to deign the best pro-life bumper sticker [Photo by Matt Yonke]
Attendees were divided into 20 groups, and each group was given 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 turned into a professionally made bumper sticker by ChristianShirts.net.
Eric Scheidler and Matt Yonke selected the top four finalists, and the teens voted for their favorite among these: a clever design (see below) created by Emily Coronado, Taylor Marsh, Chris Crocco, Frances Crocco, Kelly Hayes, Matt Wanda, Margaret Schuhriemen, Clare Dempsey, and Mason Fiascone.
The winning bumper sticker design [Photo by Erin Yonke]
Last but not least, the TeenSpeak Essay Contest winners were announced: Second place went to Matalyn VanderBleek, a senior at Morrison High School, and First Place went 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!
- Order copies of the two talks given by Josh Brahm here.