By Sheila Ryan, CEO, The Georgia Center for Child Advocacy
For 30 years, the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy (GCCA) has worked with children who have experienced the ills of society from sexual and physical abuse to witnessing violence. GCCA bridges the gap between these societal ills and the good of the world for over 15,000 children in Fulton and DeKalb counties.
Now envision members of the Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. (JLA) working alongside non-profit partners such as GCCA to help create a program. That program provides vulnerable Atlanta metropolitan area youth, who are survivors of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST), with employment readiness, life skills, personal development programming and specialized educational support. A program to improve the probability of survivors leading successful lives. That vision is becoming a reality known as the Envision Project. Recently, GCCA was awarded a three-year, $600,000 grant to work with the JLA and other strategic partners to provide targeted community and professional training aimed at raising community awareness, facilitating collaborative response and strengthening intervention with trafficking survivors.
GCCA and the JLA will work in partnership to develop and implement a comprehensive training and mentoring program that targets the key components of the Envision Project: providing intensive educational support, life skills training and personal growth programming. The program will engage a cadre of JLA leaders and members in specific, comprehensive training and experiential learning modules delivered to DMST victims at GCCA headquarters. These trainings and modules will provide DMST victims in the Atlanta metropolitan area opportunities to engage in experiences which support educational engagement and achievement, develop employment skills which foster financial independence, encourage life skills and preparation of independent living, enhance and enrich personal growth and community connectedness.
Many cannot envision themselves working with DMST victims. The work is not easy. Impactful work is never easy; however, for JLA members who can envision themselves to be positive, impactful conduits of change in the life of a child who has been trafficked, there will be opportunities to be involved in the Envision Project is a meaningful way. Over the next several months, GCCA with work with JLA to develop curriculum and volunteer opportunities that will broaden the road of success for the Envision Project and the DMST victims we serve. Because we all must envision ourselves as light, we all must envision ourselves as positive change.