The Super Bowl draws large numbers of visitors and an influx of tourism dollars into its host city. What most don’t realize is that it also brings a significant increase in human trafficking, as well.
There are an estimated 27 million slaves around the world; the largest number in human history. Human Trafficking is the world’s second largest illegal crime. 100,000 humans are trafficked throughout the United States each year.
When NJEA member Dan Papa told his social studies students in Jefferson Township about it, it became more than a lesson; it became a mission. Papa and his colleagues Nancy Harris and Sharon Ciliento worked with their students in Jefferson Township to form an organization called Project Stay Gold. The goal of Project Stay Gold is to raise awareness of the problem and work to end human trafficking.
This year, they focused their efforts on raising awareness of sex trafficking at the Super Bowl. It is unfortunately common that large events, such as the Super Bowl, which draw visitors from across the world, also draw human traffickers. Law enforcement in Super Bowl cities often sees a spike in arrests for underage prostitution, a strong indicator of human trafficking.
Project Stay Gold members have organized and created a petition against such exploitation, and called it “Not on Our Turf.”
NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer presents the Human & Civil Rights Award to Sharon Ciliento, Dan Papa, and Dr. Susan Harris of the Jefferson Township Education Association for Project Stay Gold.
They also created a series of powerful public service announcements that describe the problem of sex trafficking around the Super Bowl and declare, “We will not stand by as human trafficking invades our state. We must take a stand against this crime and declare: ‘Not now. Not ever. Not on our turf!’”
“Project Stay Gold is a powerful example of what young people can do when they put their passion behind a cause that matters,” Noted NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer, as he presented the students and their teachers with the NJEA Human & Civil Rights Award. “It’s also a great example of the impact that educators can have beyond the walls of the classroom.”
For more information on Project Stay Gold, visit projectstaygold.org.