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When millions watch Super Bowl XLIX, they’ll see the teams battling it out on the field, the fanatic fans in the stands, and the glitz of the celebrity-studded half time show. All usual stuff for a national, high profile sporting event.
What they won’t see, and what they likely don’t know about, is the sex trafficking that may be going on behind the scenes.
“Studies have shown that during major events, including the Super Bowl, there is an increase in prostitution demand. However, many people do not realize that oftentimes, 'prostitutes' are actually victims of human trafficking." said Erin Schulte, co-founder and president of the All Walks Project at Arizona State University, an organization focused on raising awareness of domestic sex trafficking. “With the Super Bowl coming to Arizona, there is a spotlight on how Arizona is responding to domestic sex trafficking,” she added.
Schulte, a student at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University, along with fellow honors students Jessica Hocken and Jasmine Anglen, co-founded All Walks, a student-led nonprofit dedicated to developing a training curriculum for volunteers to work with survivors of sex trafficking. In addition, All Walks aims to educate college students and the community about the commercial exploitation of women and children that exists in their own back yard.
Students involved in All Walks - which is a social venture in the ASU Entrepreneurship & Innovation Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative - come from various backgrounds and majors; they share a common goal of raising awareness about sex trafficking.
“All Walks Project is a great example that entrepreneurs can come from any background or academic discipline,” said Mitzi Montoya, vice president and university dean of entrepreneurship and innovation. “The members of the All Walks Project team are bringing together a diverse skill set from many different colleges at ASU and applying that to solving a real global human rights issue here in our local community.”
All Walks is partnering with the The McCain Institute and Cindy McCain, the institute’s senior advisor on human trafficking, to present Sex Trafficking Awareness Week, January 26-29. The week’s activities - just prior to Super Bowl on February 1- will focus on issues surrounding sex trafficking. Other organizations involved in the effort include ASU’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, ASU Undergraduate Student Government, the International Rescue Committee, Shared Hope International, and Red Light Rebellion.
“We are extremely proud of the progress that All Walks Project has made to raise awareness on campus about sex trafficking,” said Garret Westlake, associate dean for student entrepreneurship. “Their natural ability to mobilize student support on campus and to collaborate with high profile individuals, as they are doing with Cindy McCain, are great examples of why they have been so successful in the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative.”
Learn more about the awareness week initiative in this video.
Awareness Week Schedule:
Monday, January 26, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Memorial Union on the ASU Tempe campus - Information tables and human trafficking awareness messages written in chalk on the sidewalk near the Memorial Union. Blue Campaign Human Trafficking 101 fact sheets will be distributed. The tabling and chalking event will mark the beginning of the “Ask Me” campaign, in which trained All Walks Project volunteers will inform student participants about domestic sex trafficking while the students create bracelets that spell out “Ask Me.” The students will pledge to wear the bracelets until after the Super Bowl and whenever anyone asks them what their bracelets are about, they will be able to give them accurate information about sex trafficking, how it impacts the community and their peers, and what people can do to combat the issue.
Tuesday, January 27, 11 a.m. -2 p.m., Taylor Place at the ASU Downtown campus – Information table and human trafficking awareness messages written in chalk on the sidewalk at Taylor Place.
Wednesday, January 28, 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Hayden Lawn on the ASU Tempe campus - Walk-through display with The McCain Institute, Red Light Rebellion, Shared Hope International, and International Rescue Committee. More information here.
Thursday, January 29, 6 - 7:30 p.m., Cottonwood Building, Room 101/103, at the Barrett Honors College Tempe campus - Savannah Sanders, a survivor of domestic sex trafficking in Phoenix, will speak about her exploitation in the sex trade. She is a nationally award-winning advocate for survivors of sex trafficking, and currently works with the O'Connor House to promote local awareness about this issue.
Like the All Walks Project on Facebook.