Kicking off the year of the pro-life teen ...
I just got home from spending some time with my absolute favorite people on the planet. It's probably not going to shock you that they are teenagers. Nor will it come as a surprise that they are of the pro-life variety. They are my camp team at Wisconsin Right to Life.
These kids are a breed apart. They spend their time on behalf of others. They are knowledgeable on the facts of abortion and euthanasia. They are passionate about the cause of life and about protecting those who have no voice. They will, to a person, end up in careers that allow them to serve the pro-life cause in one capacity or another. Many will end up working full time in the movement itself.
I love them like they are my own. I could brag about them for hours. I could tell you why each is unique and amazing. I would probably weep as I shared just how much I appreciate all they have done and continue to do for unborn children and the medically vulnerable.
But here's the thing. As crazy as I am about "my" kids, I know that in every state in our nation, equally fabulous young people exist--kids ready to learn, eager to get involved, willing to give of themselves. All we need is to identify and train these leaders of tomorrow.
I know we have them in Louisiana. Our affiliate there, Louisiana Right to Life Federation, is bringing literal busloads--hundreds of teenagers--to Washington, D.C., this month for the March for Life. It hosts hugely successful leadership camps in the spring and summer that bring teens from all over Louisiana to learn how to be advocates for the unborn.
Under the leadership of Ben Clapper, they are working closely with NRLC to develop a plan to bring youth camps to all 50 states over the next several years. To say that we are excited about this program would be a vast understatement ... but more about that in future issues!
Although Rhode Island is a tiny state in terms of land mass, it has a vibrant and growing youth program headed up by Rhode Island Right to Life's Education Director Becky Miller. We expect to see a few of their leaders at our NTL Summit the weekend of January 21-23 and look forward to working with Becky as we lay out our plans for our national camp program. She is a shining example of how one person with a passion for life and for youth can make a difference.
I just got a Facebook message (you have to LOVE social networking and all it can do to promote the cause of life) from Paul Maloney, the executive director at North Dakota Right to Life. He's eager to grow their youth program and they recently elected an incredible young man to serve as president of North Dakota Teens for Life. We look very much forward to working with them in the coming year.
Incredible right-to-life leadership camp programs already exist in a number of states. In addition to Louisiana and Wisconsin, camps are training youth in Oregon, Texas, and New York.
Rhode Island has a summer academy which meets every Wednesday night for eight weeks during the summer. Vermont Right to Life hosts a teen summit every October. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life holds a huge rally at the state capitol every year--we can only assume that such a rally will be even more exciting in 2011 with Minnesota's new state Senate president in attendance. Sen. Michelle Fischbach is an example of what can happen when you train young people from an early age to speak out in defense of life.
And that, really, is the thought on which I should end. Every ounce of time, money, and effort we put into training and empowering the pro-life youth of today will have ripples and waves well into the future. I do not doubt for one moment that among today's youth--those who attend our camps, conventions, summits, and legislative conferences--are tomorrow's legislators, doctors, attorneys, journalists, and leaders.
This is the year. Now is the time. This is our opportunity to train these kids to speak out on behalf of a cause that has no equal. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, if we give them the tools they WILL finish the job. So let's do it!
Let's train them. Let's equip them. Let's encourage them, mentor them, laugh with them, love them, and lead them. If we do, we literally cannot lose. Will you help?
For more information on how you can help with our National Right to Life Year of the Pro-Life Teen, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, any gifts to National Right to Life are welcomed and will be used wisely to assist in training youth and promoting NRLC's many other worthy programs.