The voice of a new generation: providing youth with the tools to speak out for life
“Young people are not the ‘future of the pro-life movement’. Rather, they have an essential role in the pro-life movement right now.” So says John Jansen, co-director of Generations for Life. A short decade ago, in 2002, Generations for Life was founded “as the youth outreach of the Pro-Life Action League.” Jansen allowed me to interview him, providing us all with a look behind the scenes. Generations for Life has already involved hundreds of people in its work while continuing to grow.
Through years of working with youth (he was a teacher before joining Generations), Jansen has special insight into their importance in the pro-life movement and gave me a special message for them:
If one of your classmates becomes pregnant, you will often find out about it before your teachers, counselors, or administrators at your school — or maybe even her parents — find out. As a result, you are in a unique position to be able to offer help to someone who may otherwise believe that abortion is her only choice. Sometimes, just telling someone who is pregnant that there is help available at a pregnancy resource center may be enough to save a baby’s life from abortion.
If you step out in faith and courageously proclaim the pro-life message, you will be amazed at how God will use you. Millions of teenagers and young people are “quietly” pro-life, but don’t speak out against abortion for fear that they will be mocked for their beliefs.
If you take an outspoken pro-life stand, others around you who share your belief will realize they aren’t the “only one,” and your witness will often help inspire them to become more actively involved in the pro-life cause.
As you can see, Generations for Life is a group that focuses on action, not just words. According to Jansen, Generations often gives “pro-life and chastity talks to junior high and high school age teenagers” in a variety of settings. If Generations sees an opening, it goes for it. Generations has reached out to public and private schools as well as church youth groups and religious education classes.
One of the most interesting – and valuable – things about Generations for Life is its Pro-Life Club Curriculum. Generations believes that this curriculum, released in 2003, “is the only one of its kind available in the United States.” Hundreds have found this to be a valuable tool for reaching out to youth and giving them a much-needed voice in the movement for life. Generations uses its curriculum to assist teachers, youth ministers, and teens who want to start pro-life clubs at their high schools or churches. Jansen explained to me what the curriculum covers:
Our Pro-Life Curriculum explains the practical steps for starting a pro-life club, advertising and promoting your club, and fundraising.
Most of our curriculum, though, is devoted to Club Activities and “Life Topics” that can be discussed at club meetings, along with resources to assist in the discussion of these topics. Topics include:
- · How Abortion Became Legal
- · Former Abortion Providers
- · The Connection between Contraception and Abortion
- · Exposing the Myths of Overpopulation
- · Euthanasia and the “Right to Die”
- · Feminism and Abortion
Jansen offers encouragement and steps of action for teachers, youth ministers, or teens who would like to start a club of their own:
One of the most effective ways young people can be a part of the pro-life movement is to start a pro-life club of their own. Our Pro-Life Club Curriculum is designed to foster the development of leadership among young people because of the unique gifts and talents they possess. By cultivating young people’s leadership capabilities and giving them “ownership” of their own pro-life club, they are better able to realize the important role they currently play within the pro-life movement.
We’ve all seen the statistics that show that young people are the most pro-life segment of the population. But we also know that many of them don’t remain pro-life as they go through college and beyond. The more we can involve teenagers in pro-life clubs, among other things, the stronger their commitment to the pro-life cause will be in the long run.
1) If you’re starting a club at your school, the first step is to gather a few other — it could be as few as three or four — pro-life students who share your convictions and are willing to help you get a club off the ground.
2) Then, find a teacher or coach who is willing to serve as your club moderator.
3) Next, contact your school’s administration to learn what steps you need to take to be an officially recognized club. Once you are recognized as an official club, gather with your interested classmates and faculty moderator for your first Founders Meeting.
4) At this meeting, you should discuss the purpose and goals of your club and come up with a mission statement, as well as plan for your first Club Meeting, which should be open to anyone at your school who is interested in attending.
5) At your first Club Meeting, you should share your vision of the club, read your mission statement, and take suggestions for future meeting ideas and activities your club can do.
These are the basic steps for starting a club, which are all explained in more detail in our Pro-Life Club Curriculum.
Needless to say, Generations for Life has carved out an important niche in the pro-life movement. In addition to their pro-life and chastity talks, helping start pro-life clubs, and writing curriculum, Generations also runs a blog with teen and college-age writers who share their experiences and insights. Generations also “sponsors an annual pro-life teen conference called TeenSpeak in conjunction with SpeakOut Illinois, the largest annual pro-life convention in our home state.”
Whew…that’s a lot, if you ask me. Please join me in applauding Generations for Life for giving a voice to the young generation and providing them with tools to speak out. Visit their website, like them on Facebook, e-mail them (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get involved, or call them at 773-304-5433.
Don’t let anything stop you from getting involved in the pro-life movement, no matter what your age! Jansen says:
Jesus said, ‘No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bushel basket….’ He was talking about the Gospel, and the pro-life message – that every human life is precious and that abortion is a terrible evil – is an indispensable part of the Gospel.
Over 3,300 of our unborn brothers and sisters are killed by abortion every day in our country alone, and all of us, no matter how old we are, have a right and a duty to speak up for them and to proclaim that abortion is wrong.