For me it is not just an "issue" but rather an injustice that I have come face to face with. I have cried many tears over the young lady who used to attend our programs, who used to deliver my newspaper who was recruited into the sex trade before she was even 14. Once my eyes were opened to the steps leading up to the this, I began to recognize many young people who were being exploited in the community.
My co-worker and I have been working on this issue "off the sides of our desk" in a more concerted for the past several years and this month we have made some critical inroads toward our goal of ending exploitation in Langley.
- We have developed an area wide action plan to address the prevention, intervention and aftercare of young people affected by exploitation.
- We have employed a presentation the AIM of which is to increase Awareness, aid people to Identify the warning signs of exploitation and create a Movement of compassionate and motivated people to help join the cause.
- In the past two years we have presented to every elementary and high school principal in the district as well as being invited to Parent Advisory Counsels, Social Justice Clubs and as featured speaker for the Professional Development training Days offered in the district for teachers, counselors, youth workers and support care workers in Langley.
- We have built strong partnerships within local and national politicians, Miss Canada 2012 and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
- Our efforts have been recognized by victim services and crime prevention divisions of the British Columbia Ministry of Justice.
This past week I was encouraged that the fight has been worth it. We were contacted by another agency in the Langley area that wants to partner with our efforts and help to expand the current operations. This may or may not come with some substantial funding to help offset the cost of materials, website developments as well as potentially pay my co-worker and I for the presentations that we do. However, if that funding comes through or not, the exciting thing is that they want to appeal to a local Child and Youth Committee that is comprised of many key stake holders in the area to adopt our action plan and become certified trainers thereby increasing our capacity to make this dream come to fruition. This is a huge step in the right direction.