Posts Tagged ‘human trafficking’

2017 Ohio Youth Summit: A Day of Awareness, Prevention, and Advocacy

February 5, 2017

Youth Summit: Awareness, Prevention, and Advocacy | creativity in motion

On Friday, February 3rd I was able to participate in the 1st Annual Ohio Human Trafficking Youth Prevention Summit held in Columbus at the Ohio Statehouse. The event was hosted by Representative Theresa Fedor as an additional event to the 8th Annual Ohio Human Trafficking Awareness Day held in the Capitol the day before.  Over 200 high school and college students from all over Ohio (Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, Dayton, Cincinnati, and surrounding areas) came together to become more aware of and advocate for human trafficking prevention.

The agenda for the day was full of inspiring speakers and creative activities aimed at providing education and a message of action to youth about how to get involved in this important issue and learn how to protect themselves and their peers from being at-risk. At the Summit Representative Fedor also introduced a new bill that would help protect 16 and 17 year old youth from human trafficking with this announcement.

Survivors and advocates gave voice to and shared their experiences with students through poetry, music, performance, and panel discussions. This included Poet Quynterra Eskridge, Rapper Archie Green, and national speaker, author, and educator Dr. Elaine Richardson, who performed her one woman show PHD to PhD: How Education Saved My Life.  The day’s events also included a panel moderated by Renee Jones of statewide professionals representing the fields of public health, law enforcement, policy, and juvenile justice.  It was an honor to be included with this very knowledgeable line up to share my role at the Renee Jones Empowerment Center offering art therapy for survivors and at risk teens as part of Ursuline ArtSpace Outreach.

The day concluded with a break out session for students with the University of Dayton and for educators with Abolition Ohio. A valuable resource that was shared for educators and other professionals working with youth to implement prevention programming was this guide published by the Ohio Attorney General.

Youth Summit: Awareness, Prevention, and Adocacy | creativity in motion

A full day of important information, performances, and learning

Also available throughout the Summit was art making that invited students to creatively contribute a pledge hand in response to standing up to human trafficking and bringing awareness- many positive and encouraging messages were created by youth in attendance as part of this project in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium.

Youth Summit: Awareness, Prevention, and Advocacy

Students were invited to contribute to group art pieces.

Thank you to Representative Fedor for hosting this event for the wellbeing of Ohio’s youth and the Renee Jones Empowerment Center in helping with organizing the event’s offerings.  It was an inspiring day full of information, strategies, help, and hope.

For additional resources, please visit these regional and national sites:

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Awareness, Prevention, & Recovery Made Visible: 2015 NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium, Project Red Cord, & Teen Summit

August 8, 2015

This week I was grateful that I was able to attend the 6th Annual North East Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium organized by the Renee Jones Empowerment Center (RJEC).  This day full of learning and information spotlights the serious realities of human trafficking in the NE Ohio area, including programs, services, and resources available to victims and survivors, as well as the role of awareness & prevention.  Below is a brief summary of the day, which included a lot of content about youth & human trafficking:

Awareness, Prevention, & Recovery Made Visible: 2015 NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium, Project Red Cord, & Teen Summit | creativity in motion

Renee Jones Empowerment Center Services

Awareness, Prevention, & Recovery Made Visible: 2015 NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium, Project Red Cord, & Teen Summit | creativity in motion

Know Human Trafficking

 The day kicked off with the Symposium’s Judicial Track, which included information presented by Bianca Smith who serves as an Assistant Bailiff for Juvenile Court in Cuyahoga County.  Her presentation focused on the County’s Safe Harbor Pilot Project.  This project supports Ohio’s Safe Harbor Law that was passed in 2012 and includes, but not limited to offering treatment-based diversion programs for youth trafficking victims, stiffer charges & sentences for convicted traffickers, and training among law enforcement about human trafficking.  In the County’s Juvenile Court, the project is helping to identify youth that can be helped from the pilot project, collaborating with area agencies, such as the RJEC and others to meet programming needs and provide a continuum of care that is trauma informed.

The Symposium’s next track focused on a new program that has been launched by RJEC this year called Men of Purpose. This pilot project includes a partnership with the Ohio Department of Youth Services at the Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility. This weekly program offers training sessions on human trafficking awareness and prevention to young men, as an effort to address and reduce the demand of human trafficking.  The young men involved in this project presented an overview of what they have learned, its outreach impact with their peers, and what boys and men can do to prevent human trafficking.  Last month I was able to meet these remarkable young men to see the programming & facilitators Sheldon Lovejoy & Matt Goins in action, when I visited to speak about art therapy and group work facilitated at RJEC.  It’s great to see the success of this programming and dealing with a component important to breaking the cycle of human trafficking.

Awareness, Prevention, & Recovery Made Visible: 2015 NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium, Project Red Cord, & Teen Summit | creativity in motion

The Symposium’s Law Update included information about Ohio’s human trafficking laws presented by Maureen Kenny, Professor of Law with the Case Western Reserve School of Law.  As a result of new human trafficking laws in the state of Ohio, more services, training, and data collection is taking place- especially in the areas of Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Lucas counties.

Maya Simek, Director of Programs at the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland provided content for the Symposium’s Treatment & Programs track, introducing awareness and advocacy for LGBTQ youth and young adults and in relationship to human trafficking risks and vulnerability.

Another very valuable track to the Symposium includes allowing Survivors to share their story and journey of recovery.  Rachel Kasik, a Survivor Speaker for RJEC, shared her experience with the audience through a powerful visual timeline that used photography.

The Law Enforcement track featured Detective John Morgan from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department and  highlighted the role of police involvement. This summer, MSNBC did filming in Cleveland for their series Sex Slaves: Fighting Human Trafficking, which chronicles the front lines of law enforcement’s fight to stop human trafficking, create a better understand of this crime to stop it, and how victims can escape from it and seek help & recovery.

The Symposium concluded the day with an overview behind the economics behind human trafficking presented by Matt Goins and an Agent from Ohio’s Investigative Unit for the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Kim Bartholomew.  They offered attendees an awareness about the twisted commodity influence behind human trafficking within the US and internationally, including the trafficking of youth victims. This video the presenters showed provided a perspective into this dark reality:

A mission of RJEC’s Project Red Cord includes offering services (including art therapy!) and resources to prevent teens from becoming victims of human trafficking. An upcoming event to support this effort includes the Center’s 1st annual Prevention and Awareness Teen Summit scheduled for next month.  This free event will be a day of information & empowerment presented in a creative way to arm and equip teens with knowledge and prevention strategies that will help protect them from becoming a victim.

Awareness, Prevention, & Recovery Made Visible: 2015 NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium, Project Red Cord, & Teen Summit | creativity in motion

If you are in the NE Ohio area and work with an agency or organization that serves youth ages 13-19, you are invited to check out and spread the word about this September event that will be held at the Near West Center in Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District. There are also opportunities for individuals or organizations to get involved with donating items needed for the Summit:  Check out RJEC’s Facebook page for more information about help that is needed.

I am excited that part of the Summit will include community art-making with art therapists to help strengthen the teens’ sense of self & give a voice to their hopes & dreams for the future.  There will also be lots of other opportunities for creative expression such as music, dance, poetry, performance, and more! An artful and meaningful day of advocacy & empowerment is planned. Pre- registration is required and can be done by contacting Traci Grasso at tgrasso.rjec@yahoo.com.

Thank you to RJEC and all of this year’s Symposium speakers for this valuable day of learning!

*****

Related Posts:

Human Trafficking in Art: Expressions of Truth, Courage, Resilience, & Recovery

Creating Hope: NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium

Reflections on Art Therapy, Trauma, & Group Work

Human Trafficking in Art: Expressions of Truth, Courage, Resilience, & Recovery

March 3, 2015

This week launched the local exhibit opening of Human Trafficking in Art on display in Rocky River, Ohio.  The exhibit is hosted by the West Shore Allies Against Human Trafficking Taskforce and includes a variety of work dedicated to giving a voice and awareness to this important issue and the work of the Renee Jones Empowerment Center (RJEC).

The photographs of Carla Carter Lovejoy and Don Iannone were on display (read this article about their photos when they were at Notre Dame College this past fall), telling a powerful visual narrative behind the truth of human trafficking, as well as a story of help, hope, and healing.  Also on exhibit were awareness posters created from middle and high school students in NE Ohio as part of efforts of the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking, as well as art from the art therapy groups I have been facilitating at RJEC with survivors and at risk youth as part of Ursuline ArtSpace Outreach.

The exhibit was a beautiful, moving display of truth, courage, hope, and recovery.

Human Trafficking in Art | creativity in motion

On display March and April 2015

Human Trafficking in Art | creativity in motion

It’s hard to believe that it has almost been a year since art therapy group work started at RJEC. Over the last 10 months our group gatherings have been a creative journey & artful testimony of raw emotions, coping, growth, and resilience. I am grateful and humbled by the women and teens who have shared their experiences through their art, as well as the incredible support of art therapy received from Renee Jones, Sr. Cecilia Liberatore and the many, many advocates of the RJEC’s work.

Human Trafficking in Art | creativity in motion

Pictured with Sr. Anne Victory (Collaborative to End Human Trafficking), Carla Carter Lovejoy, and Don Iannone

If you are in the NE Ohio area in March or April, I recommend taking the time to visit this exhibit and learn more about human trafficking through the photos and images on display.  The exhibit runs through April 25 and is open to the public.

For resources, help, and how to get involved with national advocacy efforts, visit the National Human Trafficking Resource Center here.  You can also support important local NE Ohio initiatives through the Renee Jones Empowerment Center.

******

Related Posts:

Creating Hope: NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium

Art as a Voice: Art Therapy with Survivors of Domestic Violence

Through a Grateful Winter Lens: A Sense of Sacredness Among the Ordinary

 

Creating Hope: NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium

August 10, 2014

I recently attended the 4th Annual NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium organized by the Renee Jones Empowerment Center and hosted on the campus of Notre Dame College here in the Cleveland area. The day was completely full with a variety of informative topics addressing areas in relationship to trafficking & survivor stories, therapeutic services, law enforcement, outreach, and housing.  I wanted to share some of the resources, information, energy, efforts, and examples of hope, recovery, and resilience that filled the room throughout the day, as well as the work being done locally and nationally to bring awareness and help to this issue.

Creating Hope: NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium | creativity in motion

Cleveland’s Renee Jones Empowerment Center

The Renee Jones Empowerment Center is the only NE Ohio agency “committed to providing life coaching and aftercare services to those with the courage to break the human trafficking system…Human Trafficking is code for slavery — involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or peonage.”  Humantrafficking.org is a comprehensive international web resource full of publications, updates, research, and reports to learn more about the advocacy efforts happening around the world.

 During the Symposium’s Treatment & Clinical Services track information was presented about models, strategies, and approaches being used with at-risk youth for prevention & recovery that is grounded in trauma informed theory and attachment treatment.  Some of treatment considerations discussed were:

  • Implementing a Positive Peer Culture (PPC) within Group Based Work:

    PPC “is a peer-helping model designed to improve social competence and cultivate strengths in troubled and troubling youth. “Care and concern” for others (or “social interest”) is the defining element of PPC. Rather than demanding obedience to authority or peers, PPC demands responsibility, empowering youth to discover their greatness. Caring is made fashionable and any hurting behavior totally unacceptable. PPC assumes that as group members learn to trust, respect, and take responsibility for the actions of others, norms can be established. These norms not only extinguish antisocial conduct, but more importantly reinforce pro-social attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Positive values and behavioral change are achieved through the peer-helping process. Helping others increases self-worth. As one becomes more committed to caring for others, s/he abandons hurtful behaviors.”

 More information about this model can be read here: The Evidence Base for Positive Peer Culture.

  • The Sanctuary Model® for Organizations and Programs working with Survivors:

The Sanctuary Model is an evidence-supported template for system change based on the active creation and maintenance of a nonviolent, democratic community in which staff and clients are empowered as key decision-makers to build a socially responsive, emotionally intelligent and just community that is able to transform internal and external conflict, and that fosters growth and change.

More information about this model can be read here: Trauma-Informed Means Changing Organizational Culture

  •  Interventions valuable to treatment are client centered, empower survivors with a source of control about their thoughts, feelings, & behavior, as well as utilize structured sensory interventions & experiences that are soothing, repetitive, and build resiliency. (This includes art therapy!)

In my art therapy work at the Renee Jones Empowerment Center throughout this year as part of Ursuline ArtSpace’s Outreach Program, I try to keep the following themes in mind when planning and implementing art interventions for group work:

Creating Hope: NE Ohio Human Trafficking Symposium | creativity in motion

Jeanne Allert, Founder & Executive Director of The Samaritan Women in Baltimore Maryland also reinforced the power of play as a liberating & therapeutically essential part to the activities and structure of her restorative program for survivors of trauma and trafficking.  Also check out the TSW website for their lists of must see films and books to read to learn more about sex trade, human trafficking, or prostitution.

For me, the most emotionally powerful part of the Symposium’s day was the program’s Keynote Speaker, Dr. Elaine Richardson who performed a one-woman show inspired by her book PHD to Ph.D. It included an amazing performance of music and storytelling about Dr. Richardson’s experience & recovery from addiction and her life in prostitution.

Learn more about Dr. Richardson’s work and story here:

Thank you to the Renee Jones Empowerment Center for bringing us all together to bring awareness, help, and hope to this important issue.

*****

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Advocacy & Empowerment through Art: Social Action and Trauma Informed Care

Finding a Safe Place: Creating Safety for Domestic Violence Survivors through Art

Journey Shoes: Walking In the Cycle of Violence

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