Written by: Katie Linn | Previous Executive Director of Exploit No More
One of the most frequent questions that people have after learning about sex trafficking worldwide and locally is “What can I do?”. For those who are not actively involved on the ‘front lines’ in justice and aftercare, there can often feel as if small efforts may be inadequate in the fight. However, raising awareness within our communities, fighting for survivor-centered advocacy, and raising funds to support organizations providing aftercare are deeply important actions that anyone can take in order to fight trafficking.
There have been many people who have become passionate about ending trafficking that began with the same question. Upon some thought and soul searching, they realized that they can use their gifts and talents in order to make a different right where they are. Two teenagers in particular stand out in their efforts to raise awareness of the issue and to help financially support organizations.
The Rescue Run
In June 2015, a recent high school graduate, Hannah Redders, put upon herself the challenge to run across the state of Wisconsin in order to raise awareness about sex trafficking within our state and to raise funds for Exploit No More’s aftercare residential program. As she ran for 10 days from Superior to Milwaukee, Hannah had the support of family and friends who joined her for sections of her trek, running at least 20 miles per day. In addition to those who physically supported and encouraged her along the way, financial sponsorships and donations poured in, raising nearly $20,000 in order to provide aftercare for Wisconsin’s trafficking survivors.
Loose Change to Loosen Chains
In 2003, a twelve year old boy named Zach Hunter first learned about modern day slavery around the world. Through his anger about the issue and his passion to help, he started Loose Change to Loosen Chains. While raising awareness and sharing stories of people who were entrapped in slavery, he collected any loose change that people had in their pockets, purses, or wallets to donate to abolitionist organizations such as Free the Slaves and International Justice Mission. His method of raising awareness and collecting change in little yellow cups spread, with students all throughout the country raising money to help end slavery.
Today, more than a decade later, Zach still speaks and writes about slavery, having written books including Be the Change: Your Guide to Freeing Slaves and Changing the World, Generation Change: Roll up your Sleeves and Change the World, and Lose your Cool: Discovering a Passion that Changes You and the World.
Even just the smallest steps can make a large difference in your community to fight trafficking. While knowledge about trafficking is become more wide-spread, there are still many people who do not know that sex trafficking happens within their own neighborhood. Just by having a simple conversation, by throwing a party where you share about the issue, or by hosting a movie showing or a book club, a great deal of effort is being put forth in assisting in the fight.