Freedom Walk 5k raises awareness about human sex trafficking
COLUMBIA - Three local organizations teamed up to raise community awareness and activism in the fight against human sex trafficking through Freedom Walk 2018 on Sunday.
Freedom Walk is a 5K walk or run hosted by Christian Chapel Church. People of all ages registered to walk or run, and proceeds from the walk go to Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition (CMSHTC) and Project Rescue.
“It is a great way for people to feel like they can make a difference in this community where we do have the horrendous crime of human trafficking,” Nanette Ward, chair and founding member of CMSHTC, said.
CMSHTC uses the proceeds to help provide housing, medical assistance, educational and work opportunities, counseling and more for survivors in the Mid-Missouri community, according to Ward.
However, the walk does more for survivors than raise money. It provides the community with a way to support victims, gives a platform to victims’ voices, and heightens overall awareness for the fastest growing crime.
Signs are placed throughout the walk with facts about sex trafficking such as “pornography is one of the largest industries of human trafficking” and “there are more slaves now than ever before in history of the world.”
“The whole idea is to raise awareness, and to be seen in the community,” Ben Meiners, youth ministries pastor of Christian Chapel Church said. “And hopefully raise questions and curiosity around what we are doing.”
It's Christian Chapel Church ninth time to host Freedom Walk, and CMSHTC is celebrating its tenth anniversary.
CMSHTC has roughly 15 to 20 sex trafficking survivors in need of help at any given time. Ward believes events like Freedom Walk are necessary to show community strength and support for survivors.
“Your physical engagement, together in community, does and will make a difference in lives of people simply by your registration,” Ward said.
To get involved with the fight against human sex trafficking beyond the Freedom Walk, people can volunteer or donate to CMSHTC.