With films and testimony, Heidelberg to shine light on human trafficking

Next week, Heidelberg University is celebrating Human Trafficking Awareness Month with a series of presentations to bring light to the issue, including a talk by a long-term survivor.

This is the fourth year the university has dedicated a week to Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Kristen Williams, associate professor of education at Heidelberg and event organizer, said.

“Human trafficking is becoming more and more prevalent in our area,” Williams said. “Citizens have to become more aware of the issue and of ways to protect themselves and their children.

“If people are more aware, they are able to do something,” she said. “If they suspect something, they should call. Even if it is nothing. If it is something, they could potentially save a life.”

Ann Marie Babb, vice president of business operations for the We Care So We’re There Center in southwestern Ohio, is to be a keynote speaker. Babb is to share her story as a 10-year survivor of human trafficking at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Wickham Great Hall in Campus Center.

Another speaker is Aaron Brown, the national director of operations for Destiny Rescue — an organization dedicated to rescuing children trapped in the sex trade, restoring the abused, protecting the vulnerable, empowering the poor and giving a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves. Brown’s presentation is to kick off the week at 6 p.m. Monday, also in Wickham Great Hall.

Heidelberg is to host two additional events to bring awareness to the human trafficking issue, including a film screening of “BuyCott — Ending Human Trafficking” at 6 p.m. Tuesday in The University Commons. The screening also includes a digital simulation, “How Many Slaves Work For You?” followed by a discussion led by Heidelberg graduate counseling students.

An original one-act play — “Lily’s Shadow” — performed by the Bowling Green High School Drama Club is to take place at 6 p.m. Jan. 25 in Gundlach Theatre. The performance is geared toward middle school and high school students and draws attention to the dangers of human trafficking of minors.

“This production sheds more light on the issue of human trafficking,” Williams said. “We hope parents bring their own students to campus to engage and discuss with other students.”

Sponsors for the week’s events are Heidelberg’s master of arts in counseling program and the master of arts in education program, Partners in Academic Coaching for Excellence at Heidelberg and the university’s Community Engagement Committee.