By Danielle Wellborn-Tyler
A group of business savvy activists at Belton High School are on a mission to raise awareness of issues related to human trafficking. Their efforts are part of a community service competition with Skills USA, a program that promotes building a skilled workforce. On January 16th the team hosted a presentation in the Belton High School Library with guest speaker Dawn Owens, from Belton Youth Services.
Owens gave a powerful, and insightful presentation to skills USA members, their families, and other Belton High School students, teachers, and faculty members. Reminding the audience that Bell County is not immune to human trafficking and that I-35 in Texas is a very active route for traffickers. She also gave the audience a brief overview of what behaviors victims might exhibit.
Three young women are on the forefront of the campaign. Kyla Dermody, Bailey Stephens, and Lexie Locklin. “The theme is Human value, and we saw a TED talk on justness and that is using the law of the lands to protect people fully. Through that, our teacher researched and found the ARK website. They deal first hand with human trafficking prevention, services, and awareness. We got a lot of great ideas from the presentation on how to continue to help. This is something the three of us think about every day now,” said Locklin.
It hasn’t been the easiest subject to make people aware of. “It makes people uncomfortable because it’s a very cheeky subject that people generally don’t like to talk about or bring up,” said Locklin.
The girls have become very invested in their goal for awareness. “We’ve been working on this since the begging of the school year, and what started as a one moth awareness project is something we’ve become very passionate about. It just really hit home. The more I read, the more emotionally invested I become in it. I’ve heard people say this kind of thing doesn’t exist where we live, and that’s just not true. ” said Stephens
They admit it can be frustrating trying to gain the enthusiasm of some of their peers. “There is not enough out cry when this conversation is started. People are somewhat sheltered and because it doesn’t directly effect them, they are not interested,” said Dermody.
The group will be measured on several different elements including presentation and effectiveness. To measure whether or not they have increased their peers’ awareness of human trafficking, the students will be conducting surveys before and after their campaign. The group has also made videos which were played for their peers and posted to youtube. The team will put together a presentation of their efforts and findings and record them in a notebook to be judged at the competition. The Regional Skills USA contest will be February 3-4.