Monday, June 13, 2011 was the last Falcons Against Child Exploitation (FACE) monthly meeting at Fairfield Middle School for the school year. A human trafficking survivor was courageous enough to share her testimony with the students and several parents, which allowed the audience to further comprehend the depth of human trafficking and the consequences it has on victims from one perspective.
Overall, FACE has proven to be one of RJI’s most unique programs. It has given today’s youth a chance to educate themselves about modern slavery or human trafficking, and thus, inspire a generation to become abolitionists themselves. As many of you may know, the most targeted age group for traffickers to exploit is from 11 to 14. Therefore, implementing programs like FACE throughout middle schools, which students encompass the targeted age, is increasingly crucial.
I was blessed to be a leader in the FACE program this past school year. I had the wonderful opportunity to work with children and introduce dynamic learning tools to reach them such as inviting various speakers and showing constructive videos. In turn, the youth work equally as hard to spread their lessons about human trafficking to their schools and homes and brainstorm ideas on how to become even more involved this summer. We hope that the program empowers the children to believe that people can make a difference at any age. We are very proud of the kids involved this past semester and we look forward to expanding the program not only within the school, but to other schools as well.
The past couple months with FACE have been so much fun and this semester is flying by!
In February, we focused on injustice from several different perspectives. First the students discussed how they see injustice in their own lives and then we shared a video of a Florida teenage girl’s own story of trafficking. We also talked about different fundraising options and had them be the first contributors to their school collage.
A few weeks ago we held our March FACE meeting, which focused on legislative advocacy. Everyone’s favorite teaching tool, School House Rock, taught us how a bill becomes a law and then one of our student volunteers from the University of Richmond expanded upon the lesson and facilitated our Q&A for the day. We also learned how to find out who our legislators are and then Janet Polarek, Secretary of the Commonwealth, taught our students how to write a letter to their representatives. At the end of the day all of the students worked together to write thank-you posters to Gov. McDonnell in preparation for him signing the three recent VA human trafficking bills.
A few months ago, Sara had the incredible opportunity of speaking to over 300 teachers in Henrico County about the importance of teaching about modern Day Slavery to their students. She explained that in the United States, children as young as 11 yrs old are lured into this industry, and it is important to reach them at this middle school level to prevent them from potentially being in that situation. We also wanted to educate the kids on this issue as it relates to globalism, and also to raise up future abolitionists!
After this engagement, our first call came from a teacher at Fairfield Middle School. They were very excited to be a part of a pilot program to raise awareness amongst the students as well as raise funds for RJI. Our first meeting began with educating the kids on what injustice means, and what it is not. We were honored to have Major Steve Drew from Richmond’s Police Department come to speak to the kids about how to remain safe in their neighborhoods. We also showed a short clip from Internaional Justice Mission about a student who raised money for IJM by collecting loose change, which turned into a whole program that IJM uses today! We ended the meeting with a contest! We wanted to make sure the students really owned this program, so we had a contest for the name of the program! We had so many great entires, but the winner was, Falcon’s Against Child Exploitation (FACE).
The program will run through June, with a different lesson each month and we are so excited to see the impact this program will have on the kids in the program, but also the impact THEY will have on the entire school! Stay tuned! Also if you are interested in helping with this program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
“Its amazing to see such young kids with such a passion and heart to serve so early on, its the generation after us that will have to fight what we are teaching them now.” –Tessa Smucker, photographer
“Seeing how engaged they are is so exciting to me, it blesses my heart. I’m so excited to see the results of hard work from these kids in the next few months. They have beautiful dreams and ideas and I’m blessed to be apart of the process.” – Kourtney Hetrick, RJI Staff
“Seeing the kids get passionate about something that has so much impact on their world and the world they will grow up and seeing them want to make a difference was encouraging and made me excited about the future of RJI and the abolitionist movement of the future!” – Mary Hampton Elam, RJI Volunteer