“Fascinating!” “Awesome!” “I loved it!” These are just some of the comments that sum up the reaction of the dozens of teens and adults who attended our TeenSpeak 2014 conference on February 1 in Rosemont, Illinois. The day began with an eye-opening talk entitled “The Biochemistry of Attachment and Bonding” by Vicki Thorn, the founder of the international post-abortion outreach Project Rachel. In her talk, Vicki discussed some of the key differences between the thought processes of men and women generally, and of young men and young women in particular. Among many topics—including the dangers of pornography and the very real harms (both physical and psychological) that women suffer as a result of chemical contraception—Vicki also talked about the biology of abortion, explaining how both the mother and father of an aborted child are haunted by the absence of that child, and how even other children born after an abortion can be affected by the loss of one of their siblings. This is because, even though they may not know anything about the abortion, the presence of the aborted childâ€™s cells left in the motherâ€™s body are also transmitted to her other children—a process called microchimerism. The pregnant mother herself who aborts her child continues to carry the aborted childâ€™s cells in her own body, and sooner or later begins to grieve at the loss of this child. And the father, too, preparing for his role as a caregiver to the child, suffers from the loss, sometimes even more severely than the mother does. The audience found Vicki’s talk fascinating. High school student Juliana Lemke said, “I loved all the information I never knew about my body. I appreciated this talk very much!” Another student, Sara Groppe, commented, “It gave lots of helpful information about why abortion hurts men and women so much.” Following Vicki’s talk, my co-worker Matt Yonke gave a talk entitled, “Making It Personal: How to Share YOUR Pro-Life Story,” in which he called attention to many of the points raised in the first section of the Pro-Life Action League’s handbook, Sharing the Pro-Life Message. Matthew Sable, a sophomore at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, called Matt’s talk “a perfect presentation on how to talk to people about your views.” Up next was Pamela Suresca, a campus mentor with Students for Life of Illinois, who led the crowd in a rousing chant of “We are the pro-life generation!” and encouraged them to be joyful when taking part in pro-life activities. Student Paul Weiss commented, “She makes being pro-life fun and exciting!” Several other teens commented on Pamela’s boundless energy and enthusiasm. After Pamela’s talk, I showed several examples of articles and graphics from “pro-choice” social media pages—and how to respond to them. Following lunch, Matt Yonke gave another 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 12 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 a design by Seymone Gonzales, Emily Cattapan, Aiden Miller, Danny Caruso, and Nick Bratcher as the winner. Angela Villamizar, a sophomore at Benet Academy in Lisle, spoke for many when she said at the conclusion of TeenSpeak 2014: “It helped me to develop my pro-life stance and realize that there are others like me who are the pro-life generation.” Many others said they’re already to looking forward to next year’s conference. So am I!
- See more pictures from TeenSpeak here.