Human Trafficking Awareness event happening at WWCC

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Tanya Baer, [email protected]

Rock Springs- Uprising and the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office will be hosting an immersive human trafficking awareness event at Western Wyoming Community College. This will be taking place on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the College’s Atrium. This is a free event for anyone ages 12 and up.

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The technology used for this event is similar to a virtual reality game that has an Oculus headset. Participants will find themselves in the home of Lisa, a 14-year-old trafficking victim, where they will witness her experience by finding items that trigger her memories. This is the first time Uprising has been able to do something like this, and it is a good way to not only experience the technology but to learn more about human trafficking.

Terri Markham, a member of Uprising, stated, “Unfortunately, I cannot teach someone empathy, and science shows that traditional training like I normally do with a PowerPoint, does not have as much retention as experiencing a virtual reality world like this. Our brains actually see it as more of a memory and you are able to recall what you learned much easier!”

The goal is to spread as much awareness as possible and hopefully stop the spread of false information or ideas about human trafficking. When asked about statistics in Wyoming Terri said, “I try not to use stats when it comes to trafficking because this is a crime that is highly unreported. Most victims and survivors I know never disclose that they are experiencing trafficking and many professionals may not have enough training to identify a trafficking victim. In Wyoming, we were the last state to enact any legislation regarding the crime and have had a lack of available training, a gap Uprising, and others in Wyoming are passionate about bridging!” Human Trafficking statistics are not great at showing the full picture due to these types of issues. Most people have an idea of what they believe is trafficking, but it is important to get the facts, there is a lot more that is considered trafficking than most people know about, and there are many signs of trafficking that go unnoticed because of this.

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“Wyoming had hardly any activity- which can be misleading, you may think that means it doesn’t happen here, but what it actually means is that there is little awareness, so no one is calling in with tips and reports, and survivors and victims don’t know there is help or resources out there,” said Terri.

For those in Wyoming who may find themselves needing help locally, every county has a victim-serving program, usually called a DVSA program. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is also a great resource. If you or someone you know is in trouble, call 1 (888) 373-7888 or Text “HELP” or “INFO” as soon as possible. You can report or give anonymous tips on human trafficking to the hotline or by clicking here. Another resource that is close to Wyoming is the Avery Center located in Greeley, Colorado.

If you are unable to make it to this event, Uprising is planning on doing more events in the future. You can find out more information about Human Trafficking and the upcoming events on Uprising’s website. Two things that you can do now to help spread awareness, and possibly save a life is to donate or volunteer. Also, do not hesitate to report things that seem like they are, or could potentially be human trafficking.

“It happens everywhere, but there is a lot more we can do to prevent it! Check us out and learn more about what you can do,” Terri stated.

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