OTTAWA, ONTARIO (June 2, 2010) – Five teenagers representing Evangelical Covenant Churches in Canada (ECCC) recently traveled here to learn from members of Parliament, journalists and religious leaders about effective advocacy on behalf of issues of compassion, mercy, and justice.
The five students – four high school students and one junior high student – were part of a group of nine who participated in Raise Your Voice, which was sponsored by Micah Challenge Canada. The event was held May 10-12.
Participating students included:
- Magalie Knopf of Hope Covenant Church in Strathmore, Alberta
- Nadine Frei of Faith Covenant Church in Breton, Alberta
- Michelle Elliott of Faith Covenant Church in Breton, Alberta
- Peter Coutts-Smith of Lighthouse Community Church in Sarnia, Ontario
- Avaline Wright of a new church plant in Hamilton, Ontario
“It was an incredible experience,” says Phil Wright, the ECCC director of discipleship initiatives. “It was less about theory and more about how you actually do advocacy.”
Students know they are supposed to care for the poor, but have little idea how to effect change, Wright says.
Members of Parliament discussed the importance of incremental change, the best way to address the legislators, how to address several issues at once when meeting with them, and how to do follow-up.
Journalists shared media strategies and how to write news releases as well as the best times to send them. A national religious leader discussed the necessity of sometimes working behind the scenes and being politically astute. The students also attended the National Prayer Breakfast.
After arriving in Ottawa, the students learned they were invited to attend a talk given by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon prior to his meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Ki-moon and Harper were discussing world economic and poverty issues, including the Millennium Development Goals, in advance of the G8 Summit.
Later, as they listened to news broadcasts about the event, students realized just how important it had been. They were excited to have been able to attend, Wright says.
As part of the Raise Your Voice program, students commit to making one public presentation on their experience upon returning home to their respective cities. Students also are encouraged to continue learning and practicing advocacy skills.
Wright and the students will participate in a conference call later this week to discuss their next steps.