Wednesday, January 16, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Organizers of a play designed to raise awareness about human trafficking that will be staged in Bellwood later this month hope that it starts a broader grassroots movement against what they described as a “growing epidemic.”
“Chicago is one of the major human trafficking cities in the United States,” said Gay Chase, the co-chair of the International Awareness and Involvement Committee of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s Glen Ellyn Area Alumnae Chapter.
The sorority is sponsoring the event, along with roughly a dozen other area municipalities, elected officials, organizations and businesses.
Chase was at a Jan. 15 regular meeting of the Maywood Board of Trustees to request that the village become one of those partners — a request that the board approved unanimously. The villages of Broadview and Bellwood are also partners.
“In light of all of the latest news, with respect, even, to R. Kelly, we think it’s important that we arm our children and parents with the information they need,” Chase said.
The stage play, entitled “Money Make ‘M Smile Side,” was written by Mary Bonnett, a retired Chicago school teacher, Chase said. The production includes a staged reading designed to illustrate the journeys of victims of domestic sex trafficking. The reading is targeted to young people, ages 12 to 18, and their families.
“The play is curriculum-based and the presentation has been made to thousands of schoolchildren in the city of Chicago,” Chase said. “She’s provided a curriculum we’ve provided District 89 for the teachers to utilize if the students attended the stage play.”
Chase said that after the hour-long play, there will be a panel Q&A that will include representatives with various agencies, including the Department of Children and Family Services, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and the Cook County Circuit of Cook County.
“This program is aimed at educating our children and families so that we together can take the steps necessary to protect the children in our community from these horrific predators,” according to a statement describing the event on the production’s Eventbrite page.
“Our children are trafficked through: misleading friendships, false job advertisements, the internet, and social media, and in some circumstances, abductions. We hope to reach our most vulnerable children.”
Chase said that the production is part of a grassroots movement “to form an alliance in Proviso Township to combat human trafficking.”
The program will take place Jan. 26, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, 2501 Oak St. in Bellwood.
Tickets are free. Register here. VFP
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