I am valuable is more than just a positive affirmation, It is a simple sentence that many of us in society rarely think. What do we really value outside of worldly things and maybe family? When do we value self? This positive affirmation is turning into a real-life movement. Stacy Wilson saw a vision in these words and decided to make it her personal mission to instill this in others who have forgotten or maybe have never thought these powerful words.
Atlanta, Georgia is the main hub for human sex trafficking. In plain English, Atlanta is the capital. This form of slavery is finely hidden out in the open in this beautiful city. It’s like a huge dirty secret that people are beginning to find out. With Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport being the busiest in the world, there have been all kinds of stories about strange activity going on at the airport. Atlanta’s popular street Metropolitan Parkway (formerly Stewart Avenue) was once known as Atlanta’s Red Light District. If you want a good time, it’s not hard to find it in Atlanta. Sex is literally everywhere…
More and more children are falling prey to the human sex trade. This is a problem that is growing more and more out of control. Who will save our children? Someone has to inspire them to be greater than their current circumstances? Who will assure them that it is natural to dream because fighting for our dreams is what keeps the spirit alive? Stacy Wilson is more than just a wife, mother, and poet. She is a tactician in the war against Human Sex Trafficking and… OUR FUTURE.
BK: Out of all the causes in the world, How did you get to be involved with this one?
Stacy: I encountered a young girl one day. It was about 5 years ago. She was prostituting herself. It struck a cord with me because I have daughters myself and she looked like them. She did not look like a child that had been through a whole lot and had things going on. She was cleaned up put together but in actuality, she was being prostituted by her father. I played a part in helping to get her to a safe-house and get her life right. Doing that, for me, was a one- time occurrence at that time. It struck such a cord with me because I felt like: She is this close… She’s right there. How many more children can there be out there like this? That prompted me to do some research on prostitution in general. That’s when I found out about this epidemic that’s is: Human Trafficking. I also learned how the city of Atlanta serves as a hub for this epidemic. This is an issue that really target girls especially between the ages of 3 and 13. This made me want to do something greater than writing a check.
BK: What was your direct role in helping this young girl?
Stacy: I was on my way to work one morning. I was at the corner of 19th and Peachtree. I was sitting at the light when I seen what I thought was a woman. She had this garb/ lady-of-the-night type of look. When I pulled up, I looked at her. I guess she thought that I was trying to do something. She stuck her head in the window and that was when I realized that she was a child. I gave her some money then, some headlights came on behind me. She took the money to the other car, who I later found out was her pimp. Then, she gets back into the car with me and I asked her, “how old are you”? She says, ” 9 years old”. Now, she told me that that car follows the john’s to make sure that they are in an eye shot. We literally TOOK OFF down Peachtree Street. I was able to lose the car then, I got us to a safe place to call a friend of mines that works for Dekalb County De-fax. We were able to make arrangements to get her into a Safe house. We were able to get her away. That’s when we found out that she was being pimped by her father and had been for a few years. We were able to get her established. We got her testing done. I have a few girlfriends that work in the education field. We found out where she was academically and worked on her reading. In doing all of this, we were able to bring charges against her father who ultimately was prosecuted for not only the crimes against her, but other young girls who’s age ranged from 12 to 16 years old. That was my first real experience with this. We were able to take her through the series of testing to figure out where she was as far as grade level. She did an accelerated program over the summer and we got her placed in her correct grade level. She is now in High school.
BK: What role will your organization play and what do you need?
Stacy: The program is designed to help all women regardless of their social status, finances, or background. One of the core goals is to help these woman understand the value of having positive role models and educating them so that they can improve their quality of life. We want to give them options that they may otherwise think are unavailable to them. A lot of times we define our success by our circumstances. This program in particular is designed to remove that stigma from them. We want to develop them into strong leaders. Most importantly, we want to build that confidence. I want them to understand that the fact that they are still living, that makes them valuable and we emphasis good moral standing. That’s basically the foundation of the organization. What it will consist of is: emotional coping, enhancement of social skills, effective communication, job readiness, entrepreneurship, cultural enhancement, financial planning and several other image programs. We want the girls to develop as individuals.
The Butterfly Initiative and other programs
The Butterfly Initiative is an initiative encourages young girls to connect with other young girls who might not necessarily be like them. We want them to learn to establish relationships. Then, the “build my dream” vision workshop is a workshop where we can build vision boards as well as other activities for these young girls who really haven’t been encouraged to dream. It’s important for them to start thinking of their dreams. We will be doing things like: a quarterly round table dinner where we have a “round table” and we just kind of put everything out there with no judgement. We want everyone to talk. The reason why we go through such things in a miserable state is because we don’t recognize that often times, the person right next to you may be going through the same thing. This particular program is covering that. What I need is more help. I am trying to avoid having to go through the bureaucracy of government funding. A lot of times that is what the frame of a lot of these organizations are based around. They have so much red tape. It makes it difficult to put your program out there to start the work and impact the community. The government has a certain protocol the want you to follow. You have to have this and that. Then sometimes they want to box you in. Right now, we are taking donations. People can look into the organization. If it touches your heart and you can, please donate. They will understand where it is going and who it is going to help. At the end of the program, the girls will go through the “Who I am is me” graduation ceremony. They will be able to see the steps that they went through to complete this program. We want them to have a plan of action after the program as well. I just really want to avoid that red tape that stops a lot of organizations, which is government funding. With the donations that we are getting now, is being used for supplies and things that we will need for our launch.
BK: What is your target demographic with this program?
Stacy: We are starting out with just girls but the overall goal is to reach out to both boys and girls. I have to first develop my resources in the area of man. A boy better than a woman can. I want to initiate this program and make sure that I cultivate my resources so that I can reach out and get other men involved. Then we can extend, I am Valuable to young boys. Right now, we are focusing on girls between the ages of 9 and 19 years old. There is no particular race or class involved. This is pretty much for everybody. The overall goal for the organization is expansion because these issue do not just plague young girls. When it comes down to the issue of Human Trafficking young boys are essentially the core target. I have been doing some initiative work there but that is a separate program, I am valuable for boys.