Kelsey Nager wants to open young girls’ eyes to the dangers of sex trafficking
Local Girl Scout Kelsey Nager invites girls ages 12-18 to a free event at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 14 to learn about sex trafficking and to participate in a two-and-a-half-hour self-defense training session.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.
“Sex trafficking is not a problem that just happens in foreign countries. It is happening here in the United States and especially in the Sacramento area,” said Nager, a sophomore. “It is estimated that in the United States alone 100,000 to 300,000 children are forced into sex trafficking annually. The top three cities in the nation for sex trafficking are in California.”
Nager, who is hosting this event for her Girl Scout Gold Award, learned about the problem when she volunteered at the Run For Courage event last October. Run For Courage Inc. is a non-profit that raises awareness and support for sex trafficked victims through 5k and 10k running events. It was here that Nager heard the story of Vicki Zito ‘s daughter, who was taken from the Safeway parking lot in El Dorado Hills and forced into the sex trade. Thanks to massive email blasts and a FBI agent, Vicki’s daughter was rescued eight days later.
Nager realized that this could happen to others and wanted to do something to help ensure that it didn’t happen to another girl in our area.
“I started to think about this problem and asked people who I knew if they had ever heard about sex trafficking. I got a lot of ‘Doesn’t that happen in India?’ and ‘Yeah, I heard about it from movies,’ and sometimes I got a person who didn’t even know that sex trafficking was even possible. That was when I knew something had to be done,” Nager said. “I did some research and found that the average age of girls in the United Sates that are taken is 14. Hearing this astonishing fact made me want to educate the girls in my community about this serious problem and teach them skills to avoid becoming a victim. That is what led me to the idea of my Trafficking Awareness and Self-Defense Day.”
Nager is also working with the non-profit Christian organization, Courage to Be You (C2BU). C2BU’s mission is to equip, encourage and empower individuals to uncover their identity and discover their destiny. C2BU is focusing on building homes, Courage Houses, for the vulnerable and invisible population of minor victims of sex trafficking in Africa, India, Hawaii and Northern California. The group hopes to open the Northern California site this spring to house six girls, with a long-term goal of housing as many as 60 girls. Courage House will offer a comprehensive, holistic approach, unique to each child, that will encompass their physical, emotional, educational, psychological and spiritual needs. Resources will include processes to prepare the victims for a successful transition to self-sufficient, independent living. Nager will collect donations of new items for Courage House at her event. A guest speaker from C2BU will also be presenting at Nager’s event.
“Less then 20 percent of rescued girls who are sex trafficked have a safe home to go back to. When these girls get placed in group homes or foster care, they end up running away because those facilities don’t have the resources to handle the trauma these girls have faced,” Nager said. “That is why homes like Courage House are such an important aspect to saving sex trafficked victims.”
At Nager’s event, keynote speaker Nicholas Sensley, police chief in Truckee and an expert in the subject of sex trafficking, will provide a clear description of the problem and will open many eyes to what is being done to children globally.
Vicki Zito, mother of a victim and co-founding member of Run For Courage, will speak about her experience. Scott Olin of Courage to Be You will speak about the mission of C2BU and the opening of Courage House.
Self-defense instruction will be taught by Gary Merlo from West Coast Martial Arts. Merlo has 30 years of martial arts experience and is currently a fifth-degree black belt. Girls are strongly encouraged to participate in the self-defense portion of this event; a waiver must be signed by a parent or legal guardian. Waivers can be picked up at the Oak Ridge High School Career Center or at the event.
For more information visit the Trafficking Awareness & Self Defense Day page on Facebook.