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Students Against Human Trafficking Club incites change in community

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Students Against Human Trafficking Club incites change in community

Club members engage in difficult conversations during meetings.

Club members engage in difficult conversations during meetings.

Graham Krewinghaus

Club members engage in difficult conversations during meetings.

Graham Krewinghaus

Graham Krewinghaus

Club members engage in difficult conversations during meetings.

Graham Krewinghaus, Staff Writer

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On any given day, upwards of four million people are forced to work in the sex industry as victims of human trafficking, making up 95 percent of workers in the industry. This harsh reality goes unnoticed all too often.

By working to spread the word on the sex trafficking industry and raising money for some of Boston’s victim recovery organizations, Students Against Human Trafficking (SAHT) is a club that helps make real change in our community.

Many students at the high school only know of SAHT because of the fundraisers they have frequently. They can be seen at booths in the atrium or outside right after school, selling cookies, t-shirts, hot cocoa or whatever the next thing is. Senior Naomi Michelson, the treasurer of SAHT, organizes these events.

“We’re going to have a lot of hot chocolate sales this year in the winter, which will be coming up soon,” Michelson said. “We raise money for My Life My Choice, which is a Boston-based organization that helps victims of sex trafficking – mostly women – get back on their feet after getting out of ‘the life,’ which is what we call it when people are being trafficked.”

My Life My Choice (MLMC) works with survivors to help them recuperate and to empower them, re-establishing connections and building a community. Their work in the Boston area also includes prevention, education and advocacy around sex trafficking.

“Basically people go in if they need help to get out of the trafficking life,” Michelson said. “They have counselors there set up, but the biggest thing is they need funding to actually help these people, to give them therapy, to help them get jobs and get them back on the right track.”

The other half of SAHT’s time is spent on education and spreading awareness about the tragic facts of human trafficking. In the past, the club has gotten a day dedicated to assemblies called the Day of Awareness, which many teachers attended with their classes throughout the day. This year, the day will not be happening. Sophomore Cecelia Wilson, one of the club’s members, explained the new method they are taking to spread the word.

“We’re hoping to block out a week where we can go into classes when we have a free block,” Wilson said. “We’re working on making sure that everybody in the club is comfortable teaching so that we can get as many people teaching and as many classes learning as possible.”

While it will be a large change from speeches in the auditorium, the club is working hard to make the adjustment work. Sophomore Dani Coyle, another member of SAHT, pointed out some of the key differences between the assemblies and the new classroom lessons.

“Last year, the people we had were experts. Legal experts and actual victims of sex trafficking came in,” Coyle said. “Last year it was more about their firsthand accounts, but this year it’s going to be more of us trying to share more of our knowledge about it and teaching as high school students that are still learning as well.”

Michelson elaborated on their goals for the week of teaching and how the new plan fits with the club’s past successes.

“This year, we want to focus more on intersectional topics, like race, sexuality and socioeconomic status, and how they play in,” Michelson said. “At first, we were a little upset that the day of awareness was taken away, but then we realized that based on the feedback we got last year, the blocks where we actually taught in classes were the most well received. We realized this was actually going to be a better approach to getting the word out about the issue.”

Alongside the week of teaching, SAHT is working on a block for the Healthy Relationships Assemblies, as well as some further outreach. Wilson discussed one of the projects on the horizon for SAHT: adapting their lessons to accommodate middle schoolers.

“We might tweak the lesson a little bit and then bring it somewhere close by, like Pierce, for middle school education,” Wilson said. “The average age of entry into the industry is 12 to 14, which as a high schooler, all of us have passed. This is part of why we want to bring it to the middle school because even though that’s scary because they are that age, it really also grabs them in. Like, okay, I can be empowered by learning and knowing all of this.”

SAHT meets X blocks in room 404. Coyle mentioned that the club is a great way for students to make a difference, and explained what kind of person might fit in with the club.

“I think it’s just wanting to get informed and make a change,” Coyle said. “Just spreading the message of something that’s kind of underground and that still is important and affects a lot of people.”

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Students Against Human Trafficking Club incites change in community