Julie Schaufelberger
Julie Schaufelberger

VAN WERT – January is Human Trafficking Awareness month and as part of its mission the YWCA of Van Wert County will the area.

The Y’s Julie Schaufelberger, who is heading up the plans, stated that there are many sobering statistics that surround human trafficking and its victims. There are a few types of trafficking that occur, with the most prevalent being sex trafficking (73 percent), followed by labor (14 percent).

“Many people believe human trafficking is an international problem when the reality is that 80 percent of trafficking victims in 2011 were American citizens,” said Schaufelberger. “Nationally, Ohio ranks fourth in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and were likely child sex trafficking victims.”

She noted that the average age of girls who are forced into sex trafficking Is 12-17 years of age.

“The YWCA of Van Wert County’s mission is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all,” said Schaufelberger. “Human trafficking, at its core, strips people of their dignity and freedom, treats victims as commodities for purchase to the highest bidders and subjects them to abuse by their captors and others who exploit them.”

In its crusade to bring awareness to this issue, the YWCA has several events planned for the community to participate in to become educated about this topic as well as help victims move from victimhood to survivorship.

All month long, white bracelets will be available for purchase at the front desk of the YWCA and at several salons around Van Wert for five dollars.

“White is the awareness color for human trafficking,” said Schaufelberger. “These stylish bracelets are made by YW housing residents, staff and members of the Van Wert Ladies Basketball Program. The bracelets feature silver beads on white suede cord. All funds are raised from the bracelet sales will be used to assist trafficking victims.

A family friendly event, GLOW BOWL 2018, is planned on Jan. 14 at Olympic Lanes from 1-5 p.m. Various fund-raising events will be held throughout the event with proceeds going to trafficking.

On Jan. 28, a free screening of the documentary, “In Plain Sight,” will be shown at the Van Wert Cinema at 4 p.m. This one hour documentary chronicles the lives of six abolitionists who are working to provide rehabilitation centers for trafficking victims all over the United States.

The YWCA will also be collecting needed items for residents at some of these events. Check the YWCA of Van Wert County Facebook page for more details or contact the Y at 419-238-6639.