Locals walking through Wheeling in fight to end human trafficking

Ohio County

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Several are walking the streets of Wheeling in the fight to end human trafficking.

“I just really feel very strongly about it. I really feel like it needs to be addressed here in Wheeling. There’s things that go behind closed doors that no one knows about.”

Shannon Bridges, participant

All over the world are thousands taking a walk just like this one. But it’s the first of this kind in this city.

“It’s amazing. I don’t even know how to put it into words. It really is. Just having this event really is a dream come true.”

Shaina Thorton, director of the A21 Global Freedom Summit Event 2020 

Shaina Thorton is leading the A21 Global Freedom Summit Event 2020 here, which has just started at this church with an hour-long webinar. All there standing up to human trafficking and are advocating. All 25 of them… even some here are survivors of it.

“We’re being that 1% percent that our community needs in order to step up for human trafficking.”

Shaina Thorton, director of the A21 Global Freedom Summit Event 2020 

All it takes is just 1% of every city Thorton says to double how many can survive it.

“Be that one person to make that phone call if someone needs it, we could save many lives… not just one.”

Shaina Thorton, director of the A21 Global Freedom Summit Event 2020 

But that starts with paying attention. Thorton’s talking about continuing to watch the behaviors of others around us.

“If they’re acting different, definitely press in and make sure that they know that they aren’t alone and someone’s there to listen and help if they can.”

Shaina Thorton, director of the A21 Global Freedom Summit Event 2020 

They could be acting different… meaning they aren’t joyful or happy and don’t speak up like they use to.

“All of a sudden, they go in this weird shell, they have a blank face. They’re not themselves anymore.”

Shaina Thorton, director of the A21 Global Freedom Summit Event 2020 

Thorton says that’s when you should speak up, reach out, see if everything’s okay, and always have the human trafficking hotline on hand.

“Us… as people not involved with it. We can be their voice, so be the voice they cannot have.”

Shaina Thorton, director of the A21 Global Freedom Summit Event 2020 

And that’s the message they’re sending people as they pass by.

The number for the human trafficking hotline is 1(888) 373-7888.

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