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At the end of each Not a Number youth session, during the fifth and final week, each student is asked to fill out a reflection form. Many have given us permission to share these reflections with you! When referring to Not a Number, one participant said, “It is very enlightening and eye opening because [human trafficking] is unknown. It teaches you about perspective and critical thinking as well as preparing you to create safety plans.” This is why we’re excited to share that Not a Number begins tonight. We have seven students enrolled and space for three more if you have been wanting to join or to sign up your teen. (This class is for boys and girls ages 12-18! More info including short videos can be found on our website.)

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Once CVJC has a permission slip, youth will dive into topics related to human trafficking such as: what is human trafficking, social media, healthy relationships, and safety planning. During the program, students will be provided with snacks, a resource guide to help with safety and advocacy, and a certificate of completion at the end of the last module. There are 3 more spots available as of now and we encourage those interested to register asap, it’s not too late! (It will be soon, obviously, class starts in about five hours! It will be the last opportunity to enroll in this class this year…)

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Teens in this program learn that they are “Not a Number” within negative statistics of human trafficking. However, we hope that by adding to our number of over 9,700 individuals educated, these same teens will be empowered to make a positive difference.

Please join us in prayer for these students who start our class tonight! Devin-Alexus Marin and Renee Lane are facilitating this class and I am thrilled to support them in every way.

To contact us with questions email info@justiceco.org or call 559-227-8001. To reach us after hours for this class or any other time sensitive reason, contact our Resource Line at 559-725-1865.

Thank you,

Marissa Garcia

“After the training ended, one of the educators approached us and asked to talk. She said that she had been a victim of trafficking, and that her trafficker had sat right across from her in a high school class. She knew the importance of our message first-hand…

That day, the room was full of educators, most of whom worked with middle schoolers. Ryan and I (Christa) had finished a one-hour presentation about what trafficking is and what it looks like in our schools.

As educators, they are often on the front-lines, whether they know it or not, interacting with students and building relationships with families.  With the right background knowledge, they might be the ones to identify vulnerabilities and build support, to identify victims, and to recognize traffickers on their own campuses, but they need to know what to look for.  Of course the audience was responsive. They work in the schools because they care about kids, and as we shared stories of the realities of trafficking in our community, they could recognize students from their own schools.  

One of the students we worked with last year shared this story which stands out to me as a powerful example of what we’re all working hard to prevent. 

“The story I told you today about the guy who wanted to pick me up…I kinda thought about wanting to get in the car but then I thought that It was wrong and something could happen to me.

But I also thought about what would happen then if I got in, and I thought about our group and heard stories about what happened to the girls. And I did not want that happening to me. So I thank you for being here (and sharing your stories and stuff. I don’t know what I would do without this group.”

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We have had 97 students complete our extended youth programs so far this year! We have given Human Trafficking 101 presentations in a variety of settings and to a number of different professional groups. We have trained social workers, teachers, medical professionals, group home supervisors, and community members. It is easy to believe that we know where trafficking happens and who is at risk.  We read stories and watch movies and we think we have an idea of who is safe and who really needs this information. What we know after all of these presentations, is that everyone needs to be educated.  In every profession, in every neighborhood, in every school, in every church, there is someone affected by human trafficking. Everyone has the potential to be an advocate, to offer help to someone who needs it.  They may never identify themselves to you as a victim of human trafficking, but the resources you will gain can be used in a variety of situations to offer assistance and support. If we have not yet been to your community, your workplace, your school, you can be the one to invite us!  You can speak to the decision-makers in your area. You can even go online right now and fill out a speaker request form. It only takes a few minutes. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Please consider donating NOW so we can reach more people! Every dollar is matched today through Friday. We urgently ask for YOU to help us reach our goal of $25,000 to prevent trafficking!

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 –  by Christa Wiens and Jessica Pittman

 

The goal of our classes is to not only address the issue of human trafficking but also to give the general public (alongside with service providers) the basic information on how to spot a potential trafficking victim and what to do from there.

The whole goal is to prevent human trafficking through education! HT 101 breaks down the essence of all types of human trafficking with more of an emphasis on sex trafficking, highlighting recruitment, vulnerabilities, and misconceptions. HT 201 pin points and focuses on labor trafficking both globally and locally. In a recent partnership with Breaking the Chains, we have incorporated a new HT 301 which is a boots-on-the-ground training where service providers in different fields come to be better prepared to work with and offer help to potential victims they come across.

I have had the distinct pleasure of becoming a part of the prevention team; it has been very liberating and even more so, encouraging! I believe that it is very important to give survivors an opportunity to be more than their story and experiences, that is where true growth and healing come from. 

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Previously, I was stuck in a place where all I did was share my story and I felt that was all that I was good at even though I longed to teach about the issues at hand not just my own experience. Central Valley Justice Coalition got me certified in all of the HT classes, paid for me to get trained in My Life, My Choice and in turn, now I help teach most of the HT 101 classes and now help facilitate MLMC classes in many different settings to reach our young students and at-risk youth.

I would like to invite all those who are reading this to sign up for one if not all of the HT classes. With the knowledge gained in these classes, you will feel empowered and equipped with a better understanding of the problem of human trafficking that plagues our city.

–  Arien Pauls, Justice Coalition board member, educator, advocatejoin us for classes!

Human Trafficking 101 and 201 have been a major focus for us this year and we are so excited about the learning and community mobilization that is happening as a result of these classes!

This year, 2 of the 3 classes we have offered have sold out, with a total of 134 attending so far just in the first quarter of the year. We say it each time and mean it: each person who comes is taking a HUGE step towards preventing modern day slavery in our community and in our world.

“It (HT 101 class) is eye-opening and busts a lot of myths, also shows what I can do to help.” – class participant18527908_1664610786896549_5974405855454874889_n

For three hours, participants learn the local and global realities of trafficking and hear real life stories about how it affects men, women, and children who live in our community. It is our hope and prayer that each person leaves knowing ways to take action both immediately and in the future.

In March we offered our first ever Human Trafficking 201 course, developed by our newest staff member, Education Coordinator Christa Wiens. HT 201 focuses on the global realities of trafficking, conscious consumerism, the impact of legislation, and offers participants a chance to hear from other community leaders such as the Fresno Police Department.

CVJC is thrilled to have Christa Wiens in this expanded staff role, as she’s volunteered with us for over two years and is constantly making our presentations and workshops better. Christa is an extremely gifted communicator, and she demonstrates her passion for justice in her day-to-day life.

If you haven’t taken our class, plan ahead now to join us in September! Also, we are constantly needing more people on our prevention team as we receive more and more requests for workshops. Contact our office to get more involved today!

by Jessica Pittman

In April and May I had the privilege to be part of a My Life My Choice group in partnership with Youth for Christ at the Juvenile Justice Center. We had 13 girls go through about five weeks of group gatherings…and six of these girls identified themselves as part of the game on the first day.

Some sessions I wondered if they were learning from us as much as we were learning from them. Hearing them process and ask honest questions about the police, their rights, their bodies, and the potential dangers of the life that some of them were dabbling in was powerful.

The final evening was a heartfelt time of community leaders speaking into the girls’ lives and pouring out wisdom and words of life, in sincere efforts to reverse years of being told (with or without words) that they have no value. A few responses in their journals showed without a doubt the impact that had been made.

What will you do differently because you came to “My Life, My Choice?”

“Stop being the person I was and prove my family wrong, start respecting myself so I can stay strong and healthy.”

 

“Things I will do different is everything. I don’t want to continue in this life so therefore, I will use the resources given.”

In all honesty, there were moments when I had could see they some still were convinced that  “it won’t happen like that to me” – even though they were starting to experience the realities first hand. Yet as the weeks went on, it was clear that most of them WERE changing their minds. Some – I would say most – truly wanted change, whether they were involved in trafficking already or not. Some sought out help during the group and some are still meeting with various community partners to get out.

Some are still part of the game.

“Change my lifestyle, change my actions, change my choices, change my life!”

The name of our program says it all. “My Life My Choice” – a nationally accredited, evidence based curriculum written by survivors, is tried and true. From our trainings and our hands on experience we see this program

brings affirmation

brings courage

sets the stage for change.

But at the end of the day, it’s their life, their choice. 

….Isn’t it?

The Justice Coalition is saying, WE EXIST TO GIVE THEM THAT CHOICE. Especially for girls this age, under 21 and still discovering who they are…they often have that choice taken away from them every day. Abusive parents, childhood trauma,  family gang affiliation, drugs taken by their mothers before they were even born – these choices are made for them.

We are coming together presenting the choices they DO have. Here in the United States, most of them still have many choices before them, every day.

And you?

What choice will you make today that will directly or indirectly impact someone’s freedom? 

Pray, Give, Act.

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CVJC’s next youth session is at Fresno First Baptist Church on June 15th. Contact CVJC or the church for more info. My Life My Choice starts the following week for girls only. Pray and partner with us!