Newman University has staged several events since April 11 to help build awareness of the modern scourge known as human trafficking. The events, part of “Shut Out Human Trafficking Awareness Week,” will continue through April 16 with a film, the annual Newman Staff Assembly Silent Auction, and a free concert by contemporary Christian musician and singer Ike Ndolo.
Shut Out Human Trafficking Awareness Week is dedicated to educating the public about the worldwide epidemic of human trafficking. The week is sponsored by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) and the United States Fund for UNICEF – the U.S. non-profit, non-governmental organization that supports the United Nations Children’s Fund – in collaboration with the Newman University Athletics Department and the Gerber Institute for Catholic Studies at Newman University. Newman is one of only 10 colleges and universities nationwide that have been selected to host Shut Out Human Trafficking Awareness Week for the 2015-2016 academic year. Other selected institutions include Arizona State University, the University of Connecticut, the University of Detroit Mercy and Villanova University.
The activities began on April 11 with a special picnic lunch in the Mabee Dining Center and an evening of three presentations in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center. The presentations were made by Keith L. Lee, Vice President and COO of the NCAS, Hannah Gould from the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and Risa Rehmert, Director of Program Development, Center for Combating Human Trafficking at Wichita State University. Lee and Gould also spoke to various Newman classes April 12 through 15.
On Tuesday, April 12, Newman students set up tables in the Dugan Library and Campus Center and the atrium of Eck Hall to promote awareness, advocacy, and the use of social media in combating human trafficking. On April 13, more than 30 people took part in a noon prayer service on the steps outside Sacred Heart Hall for victims of human trafficking, and former Newman Professor of Psychology Charles Merrifield, Ph.D. returned to distribute information on Fair Trade Products and why they are important in the fight against human trafficking. Merrifield also sold fair trade coffee and chocolate bars.
On the afternoon of April 14, a panel of Wichita experts on human trafficking including Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett spoke. The event drew a camera crew from local TV station KSN. The week will continue with the showing at 6:30 p.m. on April 14 of “Not My Life,” a powerful film about Human Trafficking, in the Performance Hall inside the De Mattias Fine Arts Center. The event will include reflections by Lt. Travis Rakestraw, Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit, Samantha Reyes, Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center, and Julian Walker, Children Advocacy of Sedgwick County, followed by a pizza party and discussion in the Gorges Atrium.
On Friday, April 15, the Newman Staff Assembly will present the annual Silent Auction, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Mabee Dining Center. Charitable proceeds from the auction will go to the Newman Hearts and Hands fund and the Wichita Children’s Home center for rescued victims of human trafficking. Thursday and Friday’s activities will include Newman baseball and softball games featuring pre-game prayers focused on human trafficking and public service announcements. The week concludes with a free concert from 6:30 to 10 p.m., Saturday, April 16 featuring Christian singer Ike Ndolo. This event will include a pre-concert prayer focused on human trafficking and a public service announcement about human trafficking. The concert will be on Founders Plaza or, in the event of rain, the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center.