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story.lead_photo.caption Becca Schatte, left, and fellow Calvary Lutheran High School students stopped Wednesday at the Vitae Society booth during the Midwest March for Life and Rally at the Capitol. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

The face of the March for Life is changing.

While marching through downtown Jefferson City streets Wednesday with about 2,000 other pro-life advocates, Jeanne Mancini, president of the national March for Life, pointed out youth have become the faces of the movement.

It's amazing at all the states how many people will rally, she said, even with the remnants of a COVID-19 environment looming over.

"People don't get paid to come here," Mancini said. "Their only motivation is that of the unborn, and it's beautiful. They're young, they're positive, they're enthusiastic, they're respectful. These are good people."

The national March for Life is similar — in that the primary marchers are very young people, she continued.

She said 80-85 percent are young. The General Social Survey, a national survey of U.S. adults conducted by leading researchers that collects data on contemporary American society in order to monitor and explain trends in opinions, attitudes and behaviors, shows "hands down that the demographic that has changed the most in the direction of life is young people," Mancini said. "They are most radically pro-life."

For every adult marching in Jefferson City, it appeared there were multiple youths.

Josh Thieme, president of the Calvary Lutheran High School God's People in Service for Life club, said he marched to get people's attention.

"It's about making an impact, and I think that's really important, especially for us young people," the senior student said. "It's just something we find really important something we want to advocate for."

The march was Thieme's second in Jefferson City, he said. Last year, there weren't as many students from Calvary Lutheran involved, he said.

"So, it's great to see this many people from our school come," Thieme said.

He estimated 30-40 students from Calvary participated in the march.

"I'm glad to be here making an impact and advocating for this. It's important," he said. "It is a young crowd. I hope that catches people's attention."

For William Smith-Vandergriff, a Helias sophomore, he wants to make a difference in the world. He also wishes to demonstrate to others how to make a difference.

Kearra Steinlage, a Helias freshman, said she was raised to support the pro-life movement.

"I believe life begins at conception," Steinlage said. "I did a lot of research reports about abortion." She found abortion can be harmful to — not only the babies — but mothers as well.

"I'm trying to get this message out to everybody," Steinlage said. "Especially mothers who feel there are no alternatives."

Steinlage said her generation has and will have responsibility in the future. She hopes people listen to her generation, like they have listened to previous generations.

"I know that I'm very young," she said, "but I hope that people will respect the message that we're all trying to say."

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