On November 11-13, 2016, forty of North America’s most talented young leaders gathered in New York City for the 2016 Emerging Leaders Conference (ELC), coming from Ontario, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Indiana, Minnesota, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Louisiana, Texas, Connecticut, and more.
The NA team took an innovative approach to this year’s conference, focusing on the theme of The Dignity of the Person and providing training for leaders in project management and implementation.
The team tasked participants with both the great question—Who is the human person?—and the great task that follows an answer to that question: to remind others of what it means to be human. This reminder of a shared humanity comes with the provision of concrete tools for living out one’s intrinsic dignity, via projects such as the Certified Training Program (CTP), which lays out a unique philosophical foundation for an understanding of the person, giving young people tools to understand and contextualize great ideological debates; the Human Dignity Curriculum (HDC), which provides schools with a K-12 curriculum for a human anthropology, shaping students in a clear self-understanding and worldview, and its following sex ed module (teenFEMM/teenMEN); and FEMM (Fertility Education & Medical Management), an affiliate women’s health program that educates women about their bodies and provides them with ideal, individualized, and comprehensive tools for diagnosing and treating the underlying causes of hormonal imbalances.
Students who return to their university campuses will begin or continue to grow their campus chapters, while others will return to their communities and support advocacy and implementation for these projects on all levels, as WYA pushes them as concrete, long-term solutions to contemporary debates and misconceptions about the human person and his basic needs in context of sexual education and women’s reproductive health.
After the weekend conference, an upcoming medical resident who came down from Connecticut to attend, and who will join the NA team for the first internship batch in 2017, noted that one of the most important things she learned is that “young people can make a difference now.” The urgency in young people’s involvement stems back to WYA’s founding, when founder and current CEO Anna Halpine perceived and articulated a need—and has, in the 17 years since, fought to demonstrate the value and relevance of the ideas about the person and propose tools that give the person his or her entire due. This 2016 ELC was yet another step toward a wider and more powerful cultural revolution in NA.