High school students use film to confront tough issue

The students, members of a project-based humanities program, will show a film on human trafficking at the Drexel Theatre in Bexley.

Explore the streets of some Third World countries and one may find children for sale, who are then forced to work in brothels, street corners or in labor camps.

While the existence of such practices may seem remote, one group of teens hopes young Central Ohioans soon understand human trafficking isn’t an issue limited to faraway countries or even distant states.

“I know that a lot of kids our age just don’t really recognize that there’s still slavery today. They just showed a movie (about human trafficking) at Reynoldsburg (High School) and all the kids were like, ‘There are no slaves. This is a lie,’ ” said Brooke Krutsch, a senior at New Albany High School.

Krutsch and three other local high school students want viewers to see for themselves as the four host a screening of Call + Response, a “rockumentary” that details the practice and features musicians, politicians and celebrities who are fighting against it.

The screening will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15 at the Drexel Theatre, 2254 E. Main St., Bexley.

Sam Sudai, of Bexley High School, hadn’t heard of the issue or the film until she started a researching for a school assignment on political action, she said.

Human trafficking refers to the practice of taking people out of their communities and employing violence or coercion to force them into the sex or forced-labor trades. Traffickers often take victims across continents, countries, states or cities.

Once Sudai understood it, she asked seniors Emily Syfers of Reynoldsburg High School, Jazmyne Burley of Franklin Heights High School and Krutsch to help her raise awareness locally.

“Human trafficking really stuck out to me because it happens to kids and that really bothered me,” Sudai said.

The girls, each active seniors at their respective high schools, are enrolled in Mosaic, a project-based humanities program that allows students to earn high school credits through real-life projects.

Screening the film and hosting a panel discussion afterward is their “real-life project” for Mosaic.

The Dec. 15 viewing will be only the second time the film has been screened in Ohio. The organization Central Ohio Rescue and Restore screened the film at a local theater last year with a great turnout, said Michelle Hannan, director of Professional and Community Services at the Salvation Army Central Ohio. The Salvation Army manages the coalition which includes more than 60 state and county and nonprofit organizations.

“I’m really excited about it being here (again),” Hannan said. “I’m hoping that it pulls in new audiences.”

Aside from working to support stronger state laws on trafficking and training thousands of people on the warning signs, Hannan said the coalition works directly with local victims of the trade through the coalition’s 24-hour hotline, 888-881-5465.

“In the past year and five months we have worked with 26 victims,” including men and women, foreign nationals and U.S. citizens and children. The cases were a 50-50 split between those involved in sex or labor trafficking. A similar organization in Cincinnati recently reported 16 cases, she added.

“We definitely have it in Ohio,” Hannan said. “It crosses all those different categories of sex and labor and kids and adults.”

The film, created by musician turned director Justin Dillion, takes on a global focus billing itself as the “first feature rockumentary to expose the world’s 27 million most terrifying secrets.”

The phrase alludes to estimates that report 27 million people are enslaved worldwide. Migrant workers are typical targets of those working in the industry, but they aren’t the only victims, according to organizations such as Second Chance. Second Chance is a Toledo rehabilitation center for victims of domestic sex trafficking and prostitution.

If they’re able to realize a profit from the film screening, the teens said they’ll donate the proceeds to Second Chance.

The FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have pegged Toledo as one of the top U.S. cities known for trafficking children into the sex industry.

“Having it in the Ohio area just makes it that more relatable. One of us could end up being trafficked and it’s really disturbing to hear that. But that’s just the reality of it,” said Krutsch.

Syfers said she hopes Call + Response helps viewers see the reality of the modern-day slave trade, too.

“When we played the trailer in Reynoldsburg (High School) … they used the term slave and (students) completely misunderstood that,” the 18-year-old said. “They just didn’t understand that human trafficking was also considered slavery. They were stuck back in the history books.”

Mosaic’s Program Coordinator Kim Leedy said putting up the money to bring the film to Ohio was ambitious.

“I’m pretty proud of the girls because this is a really risky (project). All four girls have really left their comfort zones,” and they did all of the planning themselves, Leedy said.

Drexel Theatre owner Jeff Frank said he was impressed with the girls’ efforts too.

“They were very passionate about the subject matter,” he said. “We just wanted to support them especially since they’re young people in our neighborhood.”

“I’m hoping it’s going to be very successful,” he added.

To purchase tickets for the screening, stop by the Drexel Theatre, 2254 E. Main St., or visit drexel.net.

Advance sale tickets cost $5 for students; $6 at the door. All adult tickets are $7.

source: http://www.columbuslocalnews.com/articles/2009/12/10/multiple_papers/schools/allrynabef_20091210_0942am_3.txt

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