Heart of a Child Ministries uses unique education model to promote a culture of life in young people
August 18, 2023
Nikki Schaefer understands that raising money and donating baby items to help pregnant women in need is critical to the pro-life movement. Still, unless the hearts and minds of young people are converted, abortion will always be an option for some.
“If we can get them the truth when they are young, then that’s the difference maker,” said Schaefer, the Executive Director of Heart of Child Ministries. “They are the ones who will be making the decisions in the future.”
Heart of a Child Ministries began in the mind of Schaefer’s 7-year-old daughter, Grace, while the family attended a Holy Hour for Life. Distraught that mothers would choose abortion because they didn’t think they could afford a child, Grace told her mother that she wanted to make something and sell it to give money to these mothers so they would not abort their babies.
Since 2012, Heart of a Child Ministries has donated over $50,000 and countless baby items through the sale of their Pro-life Prayer Pillows and donations from their pro-life presentations. The pillows have a religious image and a pocket for a rosary or prayer card.
In 2016, Schaefer, originally from St. Louis, and her family were planning a trip to her hometown to share information about the Pro-life Prayer Pillow and give a presentation at her former parish. The presentation included fetal development facts.
A friend in the pro-life movement knew about Schaefer’s trip to give a pro-life school presentation in St. Louis and invited her family to ride down in their RV with mobile ultrasound equipment. Schaefer accepted, and during the ride down, the light bulb went on. Schaefer thought, “I am giving a pro-life presentation and have an ultrasound machine.” She realized that if she could get a sonographer and a pregnant volunteer, people could see the actual child in the womb.
Since then, Heart of Child Ministries has presented in seven states and to over 16,000 kindergarten through high school students. Presentations have taken place in Christian and Catholic schools, parishes, youth groups, religious education programs, colleges and public schools. Heart of a Child Ministries has developed four age-appropriate presentations utilizing a 4S education model – sharing Scripture, Science, Stories and Service.
All Christian and Catholic school students hear Scripture, fetal development facts and see a live ultrasound with a professional sonographer and pregnant volunteer. Presentations show that a real baby is carried in a mother’s womb, not just a “clump of cells.” Kindergarten through third-grade students have a “Celebration of Life” presentation with live music and hands-on activities (there is no mention of abortion until middle school). Fourth through sixth graders also hear from an adoption speaker. Middle school students and older have the opportunity to witness real testimonies from people regarding the topic of abortion and learn from professionals and doctors working on the front lines in the field.
The service component allows students to host a baby item drive or fill-the-bottle fundraiser for Pregnancy Help Organizations to directly impact mothers in their choice of life.
At her middle school and high school presentations, Schaefer conducts pre- and post-surveys to find out how many students are pro-life in all circumstances, pro-life and pro-abortion in some circumstances or pro-abortion in all circumstances. After a presentation, about 60% of kids who defined themselves as pro-abortion in some way before the presentation converted to either “fully” pro-life or “more” pro-life.
“I think the reason why we have such a strong conversion rate is because what we’re bringing to kids is authentic truth,” she said. “You can’t get more authentic than a baby right in front of you, right? With the heart beating.”
As a high schooler who attended an ultrasound presentation remarked to Schaefer after a presentation, “Thank you for reminding me that that is a human being in the womb. I had forgotten.”
4S Education Model
Because of their success, Heart of a Child Ministries is receiving interest from across the country and the globe regarding their presentations. Their response is the development of a certification program, where Heart of a Child Ministries will train other pro-life organizations on how to implement their successful 4S education model in their communities. These organizations will then become Heart of a Child Ministries’ certified educators with the hope of making the same impact that Heart of a Child Ministries is making in Nebraska.
The presentations positively impact a culture of life because they shape the minds of young people, Schaefer said.
“If young people learn the truth early, that will make the real difference,” she said. “We are getting to kids young, and we’re helping them to understand that that’s a life and that every life has value and that there are so many other answers out there besides abortion.”
While every state will have different laws on abortion, knowing the truth will help youth reject abortion regardless of what laws are on the books, Schaefer said.
Schaefer, who has six children and is a member of St. Francis Borgia Parish in Blair, said that because of the growth and global interest in their program, she needs additional help, and she believes the Lord will bring that help.
“I wake up every morning, put myself in the presence of the Lord and say, ‘Lord, okay, what do you want me to do today?’ I listen, and I write it down and that’s what I do. And then I just trust it,” she said.
Heart of a Child Ministries is working this summer to raise $60,000 to support its annual budget. The money will also be used to develop the certification program to help Pregnancy Help Organizations worldwide bring live ultrasound education to their communities.
To learn how you can support Heart of a Child Ministries or to attend their “Stretching Across the Globe” fundraising event on Sept. 15, visit https://heartofachildministries.org/summer-campaign/.
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