TeenPact South Dakota 2010 is Coming Up

TeenPact instructors at the 2009 one-day TeenPact South Dakota class

TeenPact Leadership Schools is offering hands on experience at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre again this year, Feb. 15-19.

This national Christian organization helps young people between the ages of eight and nineteen become familiar with the workings of their own state government, while encouraging them to be leaders wherever they are.

Some of the learning activities include: meeting government officials; holding mock elections, committees and legislative sessions; and interviewing lobbyists. Evenings include a time of praise and worship, a special speaker, and playing games such as Ultimate Frisbee.

They offer a four day class and a public speaking class for ages 13-19. For those ages 8-12, there is a one day class. Last year, those participating received a standing ovation from the State Legislature.

If you’re curious what the name “TeenPact” means and where it came from, you’re not alone.  Is it “a pack of teens?”  No (not really, anyway).  The name comes from the phrase “Teenagers making an impact.”  And make an impact, this program does.

Last year my daughter Karissa participated in the one-day class.  In preparation for the one-day class, she wrote a letter to a South Dakota legislator from our district, she prayed for that legislator, and she wrote a bill to be submitted to the “TeenPact Legislature” on the day of her class.  Her bill (she came up with idea on her own, I swear) was to require that public schools not ignore and skip over the Christian heritage which has played such an important role in our nation and state.  She also read a book on Christian citizenship to prepare for the class.

Karissa Ellis reads her bill before it is assigned to a committee

During her TeenPact class, she and the packed room of her fellow students learned about Christian obligations of citizenship and being involved, as outlined in the Bible.  Students learned through the use of skits, in which they participated along with their instructors, how bills can get started, the process for introducing a bill, how they are reviewed and discussed in committee, along with floor debate and voting on bills.

The day was a huge amount of fun, and it taught students important and useful information about how our government works.  I had a great time just watching these young people learning about how to be an active participant in society and how to take the reins of their own destiny in their hands.

We have other irons in the fire this year, but we have plans for my daughter to go back to TeenPact in 2011 for the four-day class.  When my son is old enough in a few years, we hope he will be as excited about this opportunity as his sister has been.

The 2010 classes will be held Feb. 15-19. The deadline to register is Jan. 29, 2010. For more information or to register go to www.teenpact.com or contact State Coordinator, Joanne Woods at 605-787-6514 or [email protected].

Joanne Woods co-authored this report.

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