A Word From Kendra Petrill, Our Walk A Mile Organizer
I became involved with Walk A Mile (WAM) four years ago as a registration volunteer and immediately fell in love with the originality. As I learned more and more about child sex trafficking, I knew I needed to get involved and stay involved. For the past three years this has been my main focus as a staff member.
My husband has attended all the events with me. The first year he volunteered and the second year I encouraged him to participate. He was a little hesitant so I enlisted the help of our home church men and created a team. He was then willing to walk in high heels as long as the other men did. Last year he stretched himself a little more and promoted this event at his workplace. This got people talking and their curiosity spilled over after the event. He and his co-workers decided to get involved in other projects.
Last year, a young teen boy was shopping at Tuttle while we set up for the event. At the start of the walk he ran up to me and wanted to participate! He didn't know anything about the cause, he didn't have time to pay, he just wanted to try to walk in high heels and be a part of something that looked like a lot of fun. I threw him a shirt, helped him with shoes and off he went. I did not expect to see him afterwards. I was wrong. He ran up to me when he finished the walk with the registration fee in hand and wanted to know more about Gracehaven and our cause. He was on fire! He wasn't aware of child sex trafficking right here, right now. He soaked up all the information and wanted to do more to create awareness.
That's what this event is all about for me: Awareness. We cannot stay silent and we cannot ignore it. WAM is a great opportunity to start the conversation and help others realize they can be a part of something fun, yet so important.
Awareness can start with WAM, but it is a year round thing. Our caseworker Melissa has been working with a local Middle School. In December 2012 Melissa did about 15 presentations to the 7th and 8th graders. Additionally she made an effort to connect with each of the classroom teachers and provide them with her contact information. In mid-February 2013 Melissa received a phone call from one of the teachers. She stated that one of the students who had been at the Domestic Minors Sex Trafficking (DMST) prevention presentation disclosed to her that a friend was being prostituted out by her step-dad. Melissa was able to instruct her on the necessary next steps in order to ensure the safety of the child and an investigation of the situation.
Also, in December 2012, Melissa had the opportunity to present to all of the school counselors and social workers for the Columbus City Schools. Recently Melissa spoke with one of the social workers at a local
high school and she reported that after hearing the presentation on DMST she began to "connect the dots" regarding a couple of students. In one case she made a report to the Columbus Police Department and they investigated a particular man who was thought to be "grooming" a student. A subsequent search of his home turned up a great deal of evidence that indicated that he was indeed exploiting and grooming local females. He was arrested.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes
Walk a mile in her shoes is a national event designed to help raise awareness about sexual violence. Each year, men, women and their families join Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® to benefit Gracehaven. The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® Event is a fun and quirky, but meaningful opportunity to raise awareness in the community about child sex trafficking.
First You Walk the Walk
There is an old saying: "You can't really understand another person's experience until you've walked a mile in their shoes." Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® asks men and women to literally walk one mile in women's high-heeled shoes. It is a unique opportunity to open the door on the discussion of child sex trafficking that happens right here in Central Ohio.
Then You Talk the Talk
It is critical to bring child sex trafficking into the light, but not very easy to do. People unfamiliar with child sex trafficking don't want to believe it exists. This is an ugly topic How do you get people talking about this issue, so they can identify and prevent it from happening? And if it's already happened, how do you help guide them to recovery?
A Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® Event is abundant with opportunities to get people talking. For preventive education, it helps people in the community better understand and appreciate the child's experiences, thus changing perspectives. For healing, it informs the community that services are available for recovery.
Please join us on Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 6:30p at The Mall at Tuttle Crossing, located at 5043 Tuttle Mall Crossing Blvd in Dublin. Plan to stay for a post-walk party with DJ Josiah Freebourne, food and drink, a silent auction and visit with various vendors who will donate a portion of their proceeds to Gracehaven.
Individual Entry Fees:
$50 - Adult
$25 - Student
Team Entry Fees:
$175 - Team of five adults (Each additional adult can be added for $35 per adult)
$100 - Team of five students (Each additional student can be added for $20 per student)
For more information and to register, please visit www.gracehavenwalkamile.com