By Andrew Bair
In just a few months, a group of young pro-life leaders will meet in Washington, D.C. for an unforgettable summer that will equip them with the knowledge and skills to lead the pro-life movement into the future.
At the National Right to Life Academy, an intensive five-week training program, pro-life convictions are transformed into action. The curriculum for the program covers abortion, euthanasia, health care reform, stem cell research, bioethics, human development, legislation, history of the pro-life movement, media relations and grassroots organizing.
What truly makes the Academy stand out is the hands-on training for effectively articulating the pro-life message. Students do not just learn about the issues, they are challenged to argue the issues! In a series of exercises, program instructors play abortion proponents and pose the tough questions to the students who then defend the pro-life position drawing from their lessons. In addition, students receive training in persuasive writing, speech delivery and media interviews.
Academic credit is available for students who successfully complete the program. Students have the opportunity to earn 3 college credits from the Human Life Studies program at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Applications are still being accepted for the 2014 National Right to Life Academy, which runs from June 26-August 1, 2014. Interested college students should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. More details about the program are available at www.nrlc.org/academy.
Since the program’s inaugural year in 2007, nearly 75 students have graduated. Empowered by the Academy, those graduates are making a real difference across the country for life! Graduates are working for state right-to-life groups, forming local chapters, volunteering for pregnancy resource centers and organizing pro-life student groups on their college campuses.
Devyn Nelson, the executive director of North Dakota Right to Life and a 2010 graduate, said of the program, “The National Right to Life Academy served me well in preparing me for this position. Not only did the Academy give me a thorough understanding of all the life issues, it helped me become comfortable and confident in speaking the truth about the life issues in public.”
Heather Wilson, the Southeastern Regional Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, said this upon her graduation from the Academy, “I know that I will draw on the knowledge and experience of this Academy’s training for years to come.”
In 2007, Politico ran a story about the National Right to Life Academy, noting, “The students were also schooled in how to deal with the press and how best to appeal to potential audience members. Vanessa Faith-Daubman, a 19-year-old- nursing major from the University of Pennsylvania and acting president of the campus group Penn for Life, explains that they were taught not to use the term ‘pro-choice’ to describe people who support abortion rights but to use ‘pro-abortion’ instead. ‘Simplifying the phrasing of words brings back the emotional impact,’ said Daubman.”
2011 graduate, Sarah Ryan, remarked, “The Academy was truly a challenging program, but it was rewarding in so many ways. I thought I had an in-depth knowledge of the Pro-Life movement, including legislation and strategies, but my eyes were really opened.”
As a 2009 graduate myself, I cannot begin to describe how meaningful the program has been for my pro-life work. Even years later, I continue to draw from the lessons I learned at the National Right to Life Academy. I recommend it to any young person looking to take their pro-life activism to the next level.