Reach out to help prevent trafficking

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) Large events like the Super Bowl and even popular Spring Break destinations bring large amounts of people to one place. But they can also bring in unwanted illegal activity. A local group is launching an outreach in West Michigan to prevent sex trafficking and prostitution at a big event kicking off later this month.

Jessica Rowland of Women at Risk International says any time you have a large group coming in for a big event, you are also increasing demand for prostitution. Then people get trafficked in to meet that demand. That’s why they are launching a campaign in time for ArtPrize.

S.O.A.P. stands for “Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution” It was started by author, advocate, and survivor Theresa Flores. She said one of the first things she would reach for is a bar of soap so she could feel clean again. That sparked the idea of putting labels on bars of soap in hotels with information on where women and trafficked individuals can get help. S.O.A.P. offers these bars of soap to hotels for free.

S.O.A.P. Outreach is looking for volunteers to help label bars of soap and distribute them to 120 hotels in West Michigan in time for ArtPrize. The event is on Saturday, September 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Calvary Christian Reformed Church. It is $10 for lunch and materials. You can register online or call (616) 855-0796.

ArtPrize artist Pamela Alderman is dedicating her exhibit this year to raise awareness of human trafficking. Her piece is called “The Scarlet Cord.” It features a red cord that twists through the exhibit to demonstrate the trauma of human sex trafficking. It will be on display at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

Trafficking Awareness Events

Awareness Concerts with Kelsey Rottiers
Sunday, September 28 & Sunday, October 5
Ford Museum “The Scarlet Cord” exhibit
2 p.m.

Blue Candle Prayer Walk
Saturday, September 20
Gather at LaGrave Church and walk to Ford Museum
7 p.m.
Information: www.wedgwood.org

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