This is Kaleigh, the new Live2free president, and I am so excited to update you on all things #StrikeOutSlavery and NYC! We arrived in NYC Friday morning and since Strike Out Slavery (SOS) wasn’t until Saturday, we had the whole day to explore NYC! As we approached Time Square, Marissa (previous Live2free president) spotted one of those huge LED billboards advertising Strike Out Slavery, and once again, I was amazed by what we were getting to do in NYC! Even though Ms. Lauryn Hill (the SOS post-game performer) was on the poster, I felt like I was right there with her.
Being in NYC, we had to be touristy! We walked up and down Broadway, strolled through Central Park, re-energized with street falafel (YUM!), toured the Museum of Natural History (AMAZING), and, of course, tried New York style pizza!
Day 2 was SOS, but with time to spare, Marissa and I toured the original New York Public Library. As an employee of the Vanguard University Library, I felt oddly at home. This library was absolutely stunning! I was excited to spot a sign quoting Ruth Bader Ginsburg, stating: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Gotta’ love RBG! I couldn’t help but think of everything the Global Center stands for, and how we really are the vanguard of female empowerment in a culture (especially within the church) where women are still on the sidelines in leadership.
Then it was SOS time! All of the NGOs (including us) had booths where game attendees could come learn about what is being done to #StrikeOutSlavery. I realized right away that Marissa and I were the youngest representatives there, but we had been well trained for this moment! I also realized we had something unique to offer attendees–a way for them to strike out slavery! We brought fair trade candy (who can resist candy?), Live2free pins, human trafficking 101 flyers, and Ending Human Trafficking podcast cards. The candy was a perfect lead into why fair trade is important in fighting human trafficking, and that it is something ALL people can take part in. This allowed us to hand out educational resources for people to learn about how they can join the fight. We encountered so many people from children to adults, many who LOVED what we were doing and wanted to take part in what we had to offer.
The overall event was FANTASTIC! This year, there was a heavier focus on BOTH sex trafficking and labor trafficking. One of the coolest aspects was not only were survivors (female AND male) given a voice, but there were survivors at the event! After the Mets game, 2,500 people stayed for the post-game events (thanks to the incentive of the post-game concert by the amazing Ms. Lauren Hill), meaning that a lot of people learned the truth about human trafficking.
I was overjoyed by how many people were using their platforms—be they professional baseball players, celebrity performers, or NGOs—to bring awareness to human trafficking, and I feel extremely thankful that I get to play a part in #StrikeOutSlavery. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support from our community to GCWJ and Live2free, and for that I am extremely grateful!