For three weeks every September, one of the largest art events in the world, ArtPrize, takes over the city of Grand Rapids. More than 400,000 people visit this city to embrace creativity and vote on which art piece deserves the cash award. During this time, hundreds of people walk the streets, creating the perfect opportunity for us to inform our community on the topic of human trafficking. The streets of downtown Grand Rapids become our platform for raising awareness about the prevalence of this injustice in our area.
Part of this heightened awareness includes Women At Risk, Int’l (WAR, Int’l) co-hosting a community-wide S.O.A.P. Project (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution), founded by anti-trafficking advocate and survivor, Theresa Flores, on September 9, 2017. Flores, who grew up in the suburbs of Detroit in the 1980s, was trafficked out of her own home without her parents knowing at the age of 15 by a classmate and his cousins. The pain of this injustice driving her, Flores started the S.O.A.P. Project to reach out to women and girls who desperately need to escape the sex industry, but lack the resources to do so.