Event at mall hopes to raise awareness of trafficking in ToledoWritten by Bailey G. Dick | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It may be hard for many Toledoans to think of their hometown as a hub for human trafficking, but a group of area activists are aiming to make a local epidemic more public.
The city of Toledo ranks fourth in the nation in human trafficking arrests, investigations and victim rescues, according to a 2009 report.
The Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, Toledo Area Ministries and Second Chance are teaming up to present “Shine a Light on Human Trafficking,” the second annual Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Day.
The coalition chose to present the free event at Franklin Park Mall to connect with as many people as possible.
“We can reach a lot of people at the mall,” said Tasha Perdue of the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition.
The event will feature speakers from local organizations, as well as national activists.
Local speakers include Jeff Wilbarger of The Daughter Project, a group home for trafficking survivors, Mary Schmidbauer of Second Chance, which provides social services for survivors, and Perdue.
The keynote speaker for the event is Theresa Flores, a victim advocate and human trafficking survivor. A Detroit native, Flores was trafficked for two years starting at the age of 15. She went on to become a licensed social worker and founded an organization to raise awareness about human trafficking.
Display boards will also educate passing shoppers who may not be attending the session with the speakers.
Perdue said that the main goal of the event is to raise awareness among Toledoans.
“We don’t want to imagine that this is happening here, but ignoring the problem isn’t going to make the issue go away,” Perdue said. “It is affecting our youth.”
“Shine a Light on Human Trafficking” will take place Jan. 18, at Franklin Park Mall. The speaker session will take place from noon to 2 p.m. inside the Cinemark movie theaters on the second level of the mall near the Elephant Bar restaurant. Information tables near the mall’s food court will be set up from noon to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Celeste Rollins at (419) 309-7223.
Tags: Celeste Rollins, Franklin Park Mall, human trafficking, Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Day, Jeff Wilbarger, Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, Mary Schmidbauer, Second Chance, Shine a Light on Human Trafficking, Tasha Perdue, the Daughter Project, Theresa Flores, Toledo Area Ministries