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Political Activism on Poverty and Justice Issues to Gain Focus at Urbana Conference

by Staff
December 23, 2009
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ST. LOUIS, Mo., ( -- American students and youth leaders looking to fight human trafficking and extreme poverty in the developing world will find ways to do so during their winter break without even leaving the country, when about 20,000 young people from across the U.S. gather in St. Louis for the Urbana09 conference this month.

College students opting to participate in an "Advocacy and Poverty" seminar track co-led by Christian humanitarian organization World Vision will learn how to take immediate and practical steps at home to become advocates for the global poor. They will learn from aid workers, policy advocates and grassroots community mobilizers whose work involves speaking up on behalf of vulnerable children and women, both in the United States and abroad.

This is the first time political advocacy on poverty and social justice-related issues has been an official focus track in the 63-year history of the largest Christian student missions conference in North America, to be held Dec. 27-31. Attendees typically include college students, youth leaders and pastors.

"World Vision is at Urbana to invest in the next generation of leaders who are motivated by their faith," said James Pedrick, World Vision's adviser for college activism and social networking. "A set of challenges like AIDS and child slavery requires a rising generation of leaders that believe simple acts can change the world."

World Vision, the largest private international aid agency, is connecting with youth and church communities to equip them for activism, including:

The "Human Wrong" Initiative, launched in partnership by World Vision, International Justice Mission (IJM) and Sojourners, is a new creative activism campaign to end child slavery. In the U.S. it is advocating for Congress to pass the Child Protection Compact Act [H.R. 2737].

The World Vision ACT:S Experience, a 24,000-square foot exhibit designed to propel students into engaging with the political process through activism and community organizing on their own campuses. Mixing student-planned events with technology and social media, it is the latest from ACT:S, the creative advocacy arm of World Vision.

Specialists in humanitarian policy, aid and advocacy, such as Jesse Eaves, World Vision's policy adviser for children in crisis issues; Steve Haas, vice president of World Vision; and James Pedrick, adviser for college activism and social networking; will lead sessions on fighting human trafficking and extreme poverty, and on creative activism.

"Through these efforts, we anticipate many college students will participate and be equipped to take the Human Wrong Initiative back to their own campuses," said World Vision's Pedrick.

* The Urbana conference, coordinated by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, is held every three years in late December. In 2009, it will meet in downtown St. Louis at the Edward Jones Dome and Americas Center, following many years at the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign, where it got its name.

* World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Motivated by our Christian faith, we serve all people regardless of religion, race, gender or ethnicity. World Vision's relief, development and advocacy work spans 100 countries.

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