Valleyview students get ‘reality check’ on human trafficking

 Glendene Grant talks to Grade 11 students at Valleyview secondary about the world of human trafficking and what they can do to avoid becoming ensnared. Grants daughter, Jessie Foster, vanished in Las Vegas four years ago.  

Their eyes are fixated on the video screen a few feet away.

The teens are told about human slavery and how it’s being carried out in foreign lands.

The students are reminded they can call organizations like Crime Stoppers if they see it — or if they get caught up in it themselves.

A group of Grade 11 social studies students at Valleyview secondary are getting an education on the growing problem of human trafficking.

But the 45-minute presentation doesn’t really hit home until Glendene Grant steps to the front of the class.

She introduces herself as the mother of Jessie Foster, the Kamloops resident who has been missing for more than four years in one of the most well-known cases of suspected human trafficking.

Grant sets up a video montage that tells Jessie’s story, set to photos of the beautiful girl.

Many of the pictures were taken when Jessie was the same age as the teens sitting at their desks.

It’s all a little too much for Avelyn Hall.

“It makes it so much more real,” the 17-year-old student said, with tears in her eyes.

Avelyn has seen the posters of Foster while riding on Greyhound buses over the years and never thought she’d meet the missing woman’s mom.

“I could see the pain,” she said.

Though Avelyn doesn’t believe she could become a victim herself of human trafficking, she said some of her peers may find their way into more trouble.

She said many of her fellow students just don’t have respect for themselves — and Grant’s story could help open their eyes.

Grant, Mark Price from the Kamloops and District Crime Stoppers Society and Deb Noel from the Catholic Women’s League, are making presentations at local high schools.

The trio touches on two aspects of modern-day slavery — trafficking into the sex trade and slave labour in the global trade market.

Valleyview was the second presentation for the group.

Braden McCarthy, another Grade 11 student, called the presentation “really disturbing.”

He didn’t realize to what extent the problem of human trafficking had grown.

Braden noted students in his class were moved to tears from the presentation.

It’s exactly the reaction Grant was hoping to get.

“I can see them and feel their eyes on the videos,” she said.

“In a way, it’s a good reality check.”

While it may be hard to keep a teen’s attention for a long period of time, Grant is sure the kids are taking something from her story.

The mother of four said she’s been inundated with calls from throughout the school district, the province and country from educators inquiring about the presentation.

Grant said the group will continue to do as many presentations as they can, adding she’s working on a way to offer the lecture online.

source: via my email

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