Grand Island taking a stand on trafficking

By Trevor Andrews, Reporter

The Grand Island Area Coalition On Trafficking or GI-ACT for short, is looking for youth board members.

Under the general school announcements it states: “The Grand Island Area Coalition on Trafficking (GI-ACT) is looking for a youth board member or members that are passionate about anti-trafficking efforts in Nebraska.” 

According to a member of the GI-ACT, the coalition is lacking student members and because of this, students at Senior High are being encouraged to become a member. 

Teshawna Sawyer, a human trafficking specialist with the coalition said the group really wants to hear from students.

“We haven’t had much success getting students involved in GI-ACT,” she said. “We would love to have students engage with our coalition; This would strengthen our mission, reach more people, and really let us learn about how we can work to prevent trafficking.”

Sawyer said the coalition is looking for individuals interested in learning more, volunteering and educating others about trafficking to join the youth board.

The GI-ACT has two different committees that students can join: the Education Committee and the Data and Advocacy Committee. 

The Education Committee focuses on educating people in our community about trafficking. They also help support other peoples anti-trafficking work. 

While the Data and Advocacy Committee supports legislation that is related to trafficking. They also acquire information about trafficking for the GI-ACT to spread. 

The coalition also works with other organizations.

“Our coalition is made up with other community service providers in our area. We work by promoting their events, helping them with needs, and educating others on anti-trafficking work. We also partner with the Nebraska Coalition on Trafficking to train the hotel/motel project to local hotels and motels,” Sawyer said.

The hotel/motel project works on training employees of hotels and motels on how to identify human trafficking, as well as what to do when it happens.

Sawyer said the GI-ACT holds educational events to raise awareness about the dangers of trafficking.

“We will also be holding an education event on January 18th from 6:30 – 7:30 at the College Park Auditorium, on online safety and how traffickers use social media to prey on vulnerable individuals,” Sawyer said. “Spreading awareness is important so people know what trafficking looks like in reality, what to do if you think it is happening, and how to spot concerns.”

She added that it’s important to keep yourself safe, and well informed about human trafficking. 

“Keep your social media platforms private, follow your gut feelings when you have a bad feeling, and get educated to keep yourself safe,” Sawyer mentioned. 

“Trafficking is happening to young people; The average age of entry into trafficking is 12-14 years old,” Sawyer said. 

The GI-ACT holds meetings at the Central Nebraska Council on Alcoholism and Addiction. The general membership meets every two months. 

“Our next general meeting is January 11th at 9am,” Sawyer said. ¨I worked directly with trafficking survivors through a program that is now closed and saw the impact trafficking had on their lives, learned about how they were recruited, and wanted to help others before that happened to them or someone they know,” Sawyer added.

Students interested in joining the GI-ACT can send a paragraph about who you are, and why you want to join, as well as contact information to Grandislandact@gmail.com

For more information, Sawyer can be reached by phone at 308-381-0555.

Published by gishislander

Journalism/Communications instructor at Grand Island Senior High School in Grand Island, Nebraska

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