TeenSpeak 2015 a Great Success

Linda Couri speaking at TeenSpeak 2015 “Awesome!” Phenomenal!” “I loved it!” These are just some of the comments that sum up the reaction of the dozens of teens and adults who at our TeenSpeak 2015 conference on January 31 in Rosemont, Illinois. The day began with a fascinating talk by former Planned Parenthood social worker Linda Couri entitled “The Choice Driven Life”. With a unique perspective as a former abortion industry insider, Linda shared how she first got involved with Planned Parenthood out of a well-intentioned sense of compassion for women, but one that she later realized was deeply misguided. She also revealed that she herself had an abortion when she was 24, and felt no regrets about it for the next 11 years. In her words, Linda said that the pro-choice movement is fueled by “millions of women who have had abortions.” The audience loved Linda’s talk. One student called it “eye-opening.” Another said, “I feel that God really spoke through her.” Up next, Christine Kania talked about her experience taking part in Biking for Babies in the summer of 2014, during which she and a group of seven other riders rode from Dallas to Chicago in 10 days. Prior to the ride, each participant collected pledge money to benefit pro-life pregnancy resource centers, and all told, the members of Team Dallas raised over $70,000. Lily Dysart, a high school sophomore, commented, “I thought it was awesome that people are that determined to do something like that for a good cause.” Another student said that Christine’s talk “really demonstrated the joy that can be found in suffering.” Continuing with the theme of embracing difficult aspects of pro-life work, two of my Pro-Life Action League co-workers (Eric Scheidler and Matt Yonke) and I then related various challenges we have encountered in a session titled “Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone.” Eric discussed some of the crank phone calls and text messages he’s received in the wake of the recent “Handcuffs Project.” I talked about my initial discomfort to take part in Face the Truth Tours, where we go out in public and show pictures of abortion victims. Matt then talked about his initial reluctance to sidewalk counsel outside abortion clinics, after which Cassie Swiderek, a member of the Live Pro-Life Group at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, spoke likewise about overcoming her initial fears of engaging in sidewalk counseling. One student commented that the short talks in this session “gave me motivation to look past my fears and reach out to people considering abortion.” Following lunch, Matt returned to give a short talk titled, “Pushing the Right Buttons,” in which he explained the principles of design that go into making a good pro-life button. This served as a great jumping-off point for TeenSpeak’s Pro-Life Button Design Workshop. Attendees were divided into 12 groups, and each group was given two circle 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 2.25? button by ChristianShirts.net, and that everyone who attends next year’s conference (TeenSpeak 2016) will receive one. Winning button design from TeenSpeak 2015The competition proved stiff, but in the end the judges selected a design by Grace Witry, Lea Hines, Blake Willis, Rachel Bynum, and Gina Daleiden. One student summed up the sentiments of many when he said at the conclusion of TeenSpeak 2015: “I really enjoyed…getting together with so many other teens to discuss such an important issue.” Many others said they’re already to looking forward to next year’s conference. So am I!

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