GHS senior joins forces with teams to raise awareness of human trafficking
GREENWICH — January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and Greenwich High School student Grace Sunoo is spreading the word to halt the practice of modern-day slavery.
A GHS senior, Sunoo does work for Partnership To End Human Trafficking — a social enterprise global community that seeks a long-term strategy to end human trafficking. According to its website at globalpeht.org, human trafficking is the fastest growing illegal enterprise in the world.
“My job as teen ambassador is to start getting the conversation going (about human trafficking) at school and on our sports teams,” said Sunoo, who is a member of the golf and field hockey teams at GHS.
At last Thursday night’s girls hockey game between Greenwich and Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe, each member of the Cardinals team wore a blue ribbon sticker on her helmet and wore blue laces in her skates to raise awareness for human trafficking.
Sunoo, who has many friends on the team, organized the hockey awareness night. She also does a lot of social media work for PEHT, which has its roots in Greenwich.
“I help out with the organization of events. We had an event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the YWCA,” she said. “We’ve been getting the conversation going and we’re trying to make sure (the issue of human trafficking is) on people’s radar.”
Sunoo, who plans to enlist other Greenwich sports teams to join the cause, has worked with the organization since her sophomore year.
“A lot of people think it’s a third-world country problem, but it’s happening right in our backyard,” said Sunoo, a captain of the Greenwich High girls golf team. At the event at the YWCA, experts said human trafficking is found in Connecticut at construction sites, nail and massage salons, restaurants,car washes and other low-wage workplaces.
Trafficking victims are often forced into work through physical coercion or threats, but also by psychological manipulation. The group’s website notes there were more than 200 cases of domestic sex trafficking in Connecticut as recently as 2016 and approximately 100,000 children that are sold for sex in the U.S. each year. A law passed in 2016 brought an increase in arrests in human-trafficking cases in Connecticut.
PEHT is working to secure a residential recovery home in New England for survivors seeking to get off the streets. The residential program offers housing, medical care, therapy, education and job training for two years. Graduates will then be offered jobs in the pet supply and services market — a booming industry in the U.S.
“This organization is spreads awareness and provides job training and help to victims needing to get back on their feet — emotionally and financially,” Sunoo said.