Downtown walk to end human trafficking May 18

free2walk st. albertTrue heroes use what they have to make the world around them a better place. As we are waiting for the trees to bud after a very long winter, a group of students in our city have devoted their efforts to a global issue, using time, energy and passion to do something about it.

Human trafficking, modern-day slavery, forces men, women and children to work for little or no money. It spans trades such as chocolate, clothing and most commonly the sex trade. It is the second highest ranked illegal industry in the world, estimated at 30 million victims not only overseas, but also in our own backyard. In the past five years, there have been at least five reported cases of human trafficking in Edmonton.

The Paul Kane High School Social Justice League is hosting Free2Walk St. Albert, a 2 km walk in downtown St. Albert on Saturday, May 18 to raise awareness of this growing crisis. Beginning at Lions Park with registration at 9:30 a.m., and ending in a free post-walk barbecue, the family event will include music, children’s activities, information booths and an address from our mayor.

The enthusiasm and determination of these youth is inspiring. Gaining assistance from business, political, community and educational supporters, they are forging ahead to do something about an issue they feel strongly about. A statement by the group explains their motivation, “The community of St. Albert has the power to take a step forward in the movement to re-abolish slavery, and we are personally inviting you and your family to get involved.”

Their plan is ambitious but achievable. Through participant pledge forms and online donations, Free2Walk St. Albert hopes to raise $1,000 for the non-profit organization Not For Sale Campaign, an internationally recognized organization that fights human trafficking. More importantly, these young people want to raise local awareness about the global issue.

A mere $1,000 hardly affects the massive $37 billion industry, but it may mean life and recovery to a victim who is rescued from it. Further, the students’ goal is the educational experience. They hope to share information with participants and observers that will in turn generate future opportunities for an ongoing difference.

As we live, work and play in our sheltered first-world environment, our lack of knowledge about problems in our world does not mean they don’t exist. So for a short time, on the morning of May 18, community members will pause to consider the plight of victims, and put the safety, security and prosperity of our society into a global context.

They need us to attend, to encourage, to rally, to offer help and most importantly, to acknowledge victims. In the next two weeks, if you want to assist as a business or citizen, e-mail them at free2walkstalbert@gmail.com and ask the question, “How can I help?” These young students have a million details to address, and the combined participation of the community will make this successful.

To the Social Justice League students, as you work on this important event, I’m passing on to you an inspiring statement from the movie, Amazing Grace, about a former abolitionist movement: “We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible, so we will do them anyway.”

For more information about Free2Walk St. Albert, visit www.grouprev.com/free2walkstalbert.

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