Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – A Light for the Darkness

Name: John Mark Shields
From: Lexington, Nebraska
Grade: 12th
School: Lexington High School
Votes: 0

A Light for the Darkness

My sophomore year I had discovered the dark world of Human Trafficking.
Like most people, I saw this version of modern day slavery as an
issue only overseas. Little did I know that Human Trafficking was not
only prevalent in the United States, but in Nebraska, and even in my
own school. After participating in a Freedom Fun run held by the
Central Nebraska Human Trafficking and Immigration Outreach, I could
no longer stay silent about those suffering around the world that
have no one even searching for them. I was flooded with images of
children from my school, living life unnoticed and enslaved. I began
volunteering with Central Nebraska Human Trafficking and Immigration
Outreach by writing and sharing a competitive speech on child Human
Trafficking in the United States. Since then I have been able to help
set up for many events and even host my own educational event for my
whole high school. Since then I have been speaking at different
groups in my community, and even sponsored my own march to raise
awareness in the community.

Although I am leaving the town of Lexington my work for in human Trafficking
has only just begun. The school I am going to in Minnesota is very
close to one the largest Human Trafficking hotspots in the United
States, the Mall of America. I will be getting a degree in social
work, to hopefully go beyond just raising awareness and to actually
be able to rescue, and save these victims. I have dedicated my life
to this cause and want to use my full life as a tool for it. It has
gone beyond just volunteering to be apart of a cause, and it has
become my life’s passion.

A big obstacle I have faced is that many people we speak with are
always surprised and cannot believe that this dark world exists. Many
will see our posters and hear our words, yet be unable to recognize
the severity of the issue at hand. Many people feel helpless when
presented the facts, or even question how this could happen in the
small town they live in. Yet if the demand was not present, neither
would the problem at hand. The slave trade continues to make billions
of dollars each year, and it continues to grow unnoticed by many. My
hope is that with my work and passion it not only will save lives,
but will also spark others to not take the information they receive
in life lightly. Information given is lost without application. Even
by speaking about Human Trafficking we begin to shed light on the
darkness that surrounds billions of men, women, and children. In
order to fix our world, we must always first shine a light into the
darkness. My hope is that in the future this will no longer be a
hidden issue but one that communities ban together to fix.


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