VAN WERT – World Day against Human Trafficking is July 30 and the YWCA of Van Wert County Victim Services Department is offering a virtual learning event from July 27 - July 31 to bring awareness to human trafficking. This event is being held in lieu of the Human Trafficking 101 training which typically takes place in July.

Julie Schaufelberger, YWCA Outreach Coordinator for Victim Services, indicated that just like other businesses, the YWCA has had to be creative in how they make people aware of their services through COVID-19.

“We thought it was in the best interest to cancel the in-person HT 101 event for the safety of our staff and attendees, however, we believe we have come up with a creative way to still get information to our community,” stated Schaufelberger.

The YWCA social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) and the YWCA website (www.ywcavanwert.org) will be used to disperse information that may have been covered in the HT 101 training. Links to interesting articles and documentaries will be added. At the end of the week, social media followers can answer questions based on the information which was posted and be entered to win YWCA swag. Those who don’t follow social media have the option of finding the resources on the YWCA website and answer questions via email.

“The documentaries and articles primarily focus on information related to the Ohio area and will show our followers the strides being made to help victims in their shift toward being empowered survivors thanks to programs such as CATCH court and Survivor Ink,” Schaufelberger said.

Ohio ranks only behind states such as California, Texas, and Florida in Human Trafficking Crimes. According to PolarisProject.org, Ohio had 898 trafficking victims who were identified in 2018.

“This was only the number of victims, identified - there are many more who don’t understand they are being trafficked who have yet to saved,” stated Jamie Evans, Director of YWCA Victim Services. “Ohio is one of the leading states in the nation in human trafficking crimes. Due to the major highways which cross through Ohio, people can easily be trafficked from one location to another, however, trafficking doesn’t just happen in big cities; it can happen in our small town neighborhoods.”

Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline and leads the way in connecting more than 50,000 victims and survivors to help and support. By using data and the expertise of survivors, Polaris’ primary focus is to bring awareness to and end human trafficking.

No registration is necessary for this event. Interested individuals should follow the YWCA’s Facebook or Twitter page. Information will also be available via the YWCA Website (www.ywcavanwert.org). The YWCA is a not-for-profit organization supported by United Way and the Van Wert County Foundation.