*photo by @ylkphotography
In our opinion, high schoolers have some of the most authentic, influential voices in the fight against trafficking. Who better to fight this issue than teenagers who are the same age as many in bondage? There is power in the voice of a teen saying that modern-day slavery needs to be stopped.
This year’s annual CHHS Color Run Against Human Trafficking marks the fifth year that Colleyville Heritage High School students have come together to spread awareness in their community. Over the past five years, this high school alone has raised over $30,000 to support O.U.R.!
How the idea was sparked
In 2014, high school junior Camille Smith began learning about the issue of human trafficking around the same time she was elected to student council. At one of their first planning conferences, Camille brought up her passion to fight this issue and was met with excitement and support from her student council peers. She began planning a color run but did not have a specific anti-human trafficking charity in mind yet. Camille said, “…another member of the Leadership Class told me that his dad heard about O.U.R. and I immediately knew this was the organization we needed to connect with!” We are so grateful for our supporters all around the world who speak out with bravery and confidence about our mission. Little did Camille know at the time that along with our Salt Lake City gala, the CHHS event is one of the longest-running, consecutive fundraising events for O.U.R.
Support for O.U.R. has exponentially grown in Dallas, Texas, thanks to the strong base of dedicated high schoolers and supporters at CHHS. It hasn’t always been easy, though. Lauren Losack, organizer of the second annual run and supporter since the beginning, explained that it started out slow. “Students and members of our community were hesitant the first year,” she said, “As we’ve grown and incorporated O.U.R. information at every run, people are blown away. CHHS students have made it a point to come annually and even come back from college to check out the progress.” We love the boldness of these young students!
It wasn’t always easy
It has been incredible to watch these students take a heavy topic and present it in a digestible way to their community, eventually garnering the support of hundreds. “O.U.R. is an organization that is heavy to present to high schoolers and many people were uneasy at first,” Lauren Losack said, “But we had to ask ourselves, at what point do we pull back the curtain? If kids are being used in trafficking as young as elementary age, are we sheltering our high schoolers by hiding them from this issue?” Lauren, along with other early supporters, felt it was important to share their passion with their classmates because it helps everyone put their problems in perspective, ask for help if they need it, and see the blessings in their lives more clearly.
For anyone interested in sparking a movement like this in their community, these students have a lot of great advice. The number one thing they said is to be patient. “We started in a climate of unknowingness. Our community was unaware of the harsh realities of human trafficking in the beginning,” Lauren said. Start by working on awareness, and involvement and action will come.
This year’s smashing success
High schooler Jillian organized the 5th Annual Color run this year, and the turnout was incredible. O.U.R. Special Projects Coordinator Matt Osborne attended this year’s event and said, “I’m just so proud of these high school kids, who could be doing anything with their time, and yet they choose to raise funding and awareness to fight the horrors of child exploitation and human trafficking. Here’s to the next amazing five years of this event, and beyond!”
Faculty member Terri Jones Kitzmiller has been a crucial piece in the success of this event by being an open supporter from the beginning. “I am forever grateful for Terri’s unending support, leadership, dedication, and love for others, “ Camille said, in expressing her excitement about the success of this year’s run.
This year was a smashing success, and awareness continues to grow each year. Matt Osborne added, “We always talk about how one person can make a difference and how an individual’s efforts can truly bring about great things. This absolutely illustrates that point. Just look at Camille and Lauren and Jillian and the other organizers for this event. They stepped up, got a group together, and raised real money for the cause.”
We are incredibly inspired by the light that shines so brightly from this high school, working to END human trafficking!
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