Bringing healing and a safe haven for child victims of human trafficking.
January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month and a local organization dedicated Saturday to its first-ever 5k run to help survivors of human trafficking.
More than 150 runners showed up for Path 2 Freedom’s 5K. The organization is on a mission to help those impacted by human trafficking.
It’s a big problem in Florida, the third state with the highest number of cases.
In 2020, 738 victims of trafficking were reported showing the need for organizations like this one.
The name of the race is the Magnolia 5K, the name coming from their safe home Magnolia House for victims who are minors.
The organization is expanding to a second home as those teens become adults which will help with life skills and finding careers so the cycle doesn’t continue.
“I think many victims actually either don’t identify as that, or they think of themselves as a criminal because they may think of themselves as a prostitute or a sex worker. And that’s not what they are. In fact, if you’re under 18, whether you say you’ve consented to it or not, it is still illegal,” said Barb Bollinger, the director of development at Path 2 Freedom.
The home will be for 18 to 22-year-olds.
The adults can then mentor the younger victims, Bollinger said.
“We really see this as a win-win for the girls to also step up and become leaders within our own program,” Bollinger said.