Training youth in social justice advocacy shapes the future

Training youth for social justice advocacy is all in a day’s work for Good Shepherd National Advocacy Center (NAC). Director of NAC Larry Couch recently trained a group of students on techniques for meeting with legislators on Capitol Hill. The young men were from Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Maryland. Earlier this year Larry trained a group of young women from Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart.

The meetings with youth came about through Matt Cuff, a member of the NAC Advisory Board. Matt serves as a Policy Associate for the Jesuit Conference. Last year, Matt asked Larry and several other people to serve as an advocacy trainer at the Ignatian Family Teach In. 

Training youth who are passionate about the issues

Each year the Jesuits bring in from their schools hundreds of high school and college students to train them in advocacy and to brief them on particular social justice issues.

The students then go to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators and their staff members. This year the issues were immigration and criminal justice reform. Larry said he found the students to be better versed in issues of immigration and criminal justice reform than he expected.

training youth
Larry Couch, Director of Good Shepherd National Advocacy Center, led a group of students from Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart to congressional offices on Capitol Hill in June. The young women met with U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congressman Chris Van Hollen to advocate for ending human trafficking and forced labor.

“A couple of the young men from Georgetown Preparatory School were immigrants themselves: one from Taiwan and one from China. Others had visited our southern border and met with immigrants. They were passionate about the issues and were prepared to meet with their legislators,” Larry said.

Larry prepared the students for their legislative visits through role playing exercises, where he played the legislator and the young men presented their issues. He said training youth in advocacy is important because they are the future leaders in the field of social justice. Larry’s training session with youth from Georgetown Preparatory School and previously with young women from the Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart were done at the schools’ requests. Both schools are located in Bethesda, Maryland.

As a final thought, Larry said that in training youth he was again reminded that NAC needs a long term plan for engaging young men and women in Good Shepherd’s legislative work. You can learn more about Good Shepherd National Advocacy Center at

You can read more stories about Good Shepherd ministries in our monthly newsletter Items of Interest. The newsletters are available for download at

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette is the Communications Coordinator for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America. She is a career photojournalist who has served in various capacities of print, broadcast, and corporate communications. Jeanette is devoted to creation and is particularly focused on saving pollinators and other wildlife species and their habitat. She is an ethical vegan and created the website