Portland Adventist Academy Abolitionist Movement

May 01, 2011 | Liesl Vistaunet

Portland Adventist Academy students are joining the fight against human trafficking.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery that includes forced labor and sexual exploitation. It has become a serious problem in the Portland, Ore., area, often affecting teens. That's why PAA students have organized the Portland Adventist Academy Abolitionist Movement (PAA AM).

Students in the movement take the cause seriously. "When I first heard about human trafficking it really affected me," says Lauren Lewis, senior and PAA AM leader. "Hearing the stories and seeing girls on the street that are my age breaks my heart. So I want to stand for something that affects my town and makes an immediate difference."

PAA AM meets weekly to share information on practical ways to help. They plan events like chapel and a special youth church called The Summit, where they educate classmates on the topic.

Recently PAA AM traveled to the state capitol to participate in an anti-human trafficking rally organized by the Oregon Center for Christian Values, an advocacy group that played a key role in recent anti-sex trafficking bills in Oregon.

Tim Erich, head of the PAA social studies department, sponsored the trip and wishes all students were active in their community. "It's very encouraging to see our young people getting involved to protect other kids their age," he says. "They've even volunteered to testify before the Oregon State Senate Judiciary Committee. It could make a very big difference in the life of a teenager on the street."

PAA AM has a Facebook site where fans can learn practical ways to help the cause.