The Boys and Girls Club of Volusia and Flagler counties are taking a stand against human trafficking. Now the organization is using a new course to teach students and parents how to identify the signs.
- Boys & Girl Club teaches families to ID human trafficking
- More than 600 human trafficking cases reported in Florida
- Club wants to implement across other Volusia, Flagler orgs
Eighteen years at this Boys and Girls club in DeLand, Althea Ross-Chavers said she loves the children at the club like her own.
"I just want to protect them and keep them safe," said Althea Ross-Chavers, unit director.
Ross-Chavers said they're specifically trying to keep the children safe from anyone trying to lure them into human and sex trafficking.
That’s why the club now has a human trafficking activist, Jan Edwards from Paving the Way, to teach the children all about identifying the signs.
"Its happened in our own backyard, and it’s something that we as a Boys and Girls Club have become aware of, and we’re trying to educate our kids and parents how to not fall into that," said Joe Sullivan, CPO.
Sullivan said they once thought this only happened to those coming from foreign countries. Just months ago club leaders said this happened to one of their own club kids.
"This was a child that I’ve been knowing a long time, and I didn’t see the signs because I really didn’t know what signs to be looking for. I knew some things were happening, but human trafficking that would’ve been my last choice," said Ross-Chavers.
She said now they're learning about what to do.
"Its scary because in real life it can happen to anyone," said Tavahny Gardner.
Twelve-year-old Tavahny Gardner watched the first video of the course and heard from people who experienced it.
"Its helping us to become safe, watch out for the people that’s dangerous," said Gardner.
Last year more than 600 human trafficking cases were reported right here in Florida, and that's an increase compared to the year before when 560 cases were reported.
"We’re praying that this will save a life that a child would take it seriously," said Gardner.
Ross-Chavers said she hopes this will make a change so children and parents won't mistake modern day slavery for love.
"They don’t see it as human trafficking. They see it as being loved by someone, being given things that they didn’t or weren’t able to receive from home," said Ross-Chavers.
The four-week course started at the DeLand club last week, and the organization is planning to implement this in other clubs across Volusia and Flagler counties later this spring.
"Sad to say but good to say that we can be a voice for the community. That’s another part of my mission now -- I just want to save my babies," said Ross-Chavers.