LAFAYETTE, (Ind.) WLFI -- 16-year-old Rylee Schneider of Lafayette isn't letting her age stop her from making a difference. As the Lafayette Walk For Freedom Organizer, she's hoping her steps create a better pathway for human trafficking victims.
Schneider said she isn't directly affected by human trafficking but she has a passion to see it end.
"Every person should have the chance to be free, every person deserves to not be enslaved for their entire life like that's just really, really terrible," said Schneider.
Schneider said she was online one day when she came across the Walk For Freedom event on through an organization called A21. The website is reaches people internationally and was created to abolish human trafficking in the 21st century. Schneider said all she did was sign some papers then she was able to host the Walk for Freedom event right here in the Greater Lafayette area. The walk included walking on the pedestrian bridge and walking around the city.
The number of human trafficking incidents in Tippecanoe County is higher than the state average. State Representative Sally Siegrist spoke at the walk and shared why it's essential to bring awareness to human trafficking.
"I think that the more events that we have like this, the more light we shine on the issue of human trafficking, the more we'll be able to successfully combat it," said Siegrist.
This year, Siegrist authored an update to Indiana's human trafficking statute, now making is easier for Indiana law enforcement to crack down on human trafficking offenders and networks. She says it's a step in the right direction for the state.
"Too many people feel this is a problem in foreign countries and don't realize it is a problem in our backyard," said Siegrist.
Siegrist said she's impressed with Schneider efforts to tackle this big issue at her young age.
"It gives me great hope for the future, that young people are activists and are concerned about issues that may not have directly impacted them but that impact us all," said Seigrist.
For Schneider, she wants the freedom walk to go beyond the pavement.
"Through this, I can kind of share Jesus and that's the main thing because if people can't have freedom in this life then they can have freedom in the next through Jesus and that's really the ultimate goal," said Schneider.
According to A21, 99% of victims are never rescued. The organization works to help those that are rescued and bring awareness to the signs that someone may be a victim of human trafficking. You can donate to help surviving victims here.
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