ARTREACH is HTAP’s signature program which is aimed at middle to high school age students who are interested in using their talent or love of art to educate themselves and others about human trafficking. These students usually attend afterschool or summer camp programs and the program is open to those with artistic skills or not.
Eighteen programs have been conducted beginning the Spring of 2010 and two are in progress for the summer of 2013. As most victims of human trafficking are female, most classes are aimed at girls between the ages of 10 to 18, usually focused on 10-15 year olds or 16-18 year olds. However, we are open to conducting classes for boys and we have conducted mixed classes though because of the sensitive nature of the material, we prefer to work with one gender at a time. The ARTREACH program is sometimes combined with the TIPS program.
Most programs involve the painting of four 4′ x 5′ canvas wall-hangings which have been exhibited and reproduced as postcards. However, our very first involved the writing, directing and performing of an original one act play consisting of monologues and dialogues describing victims’ stories at the Cypress Lake Center for the Arts. A script of that play is available at no cost. We have also worked with students during in-school club periods, focusing on photography and paintings. We have worked with after-school programs which continue over several weeks, focusing on graffiti and poetry.
Our goal is not only to educate and empower the participants, but also to exhibit the art to educate others. The current artwork has been exhibited in over 25 venues around the country, including community centers, art galleries, churches, schools and universities. By reproducing the artwork in smaller banners which can be rolled up, they can be loaned out to be exhibited easily. We also create a banner for every facility that hosts a class. We create 3″ x 4″ postcards which have the paintings on one side and the interpretations of the paintings on the other for use at outreach and training events.
Our goal is to guide other communities so that they may produce similar programs, using all forms of art and to create additional awareness materials as well as to develop educated artists who can teach others in their own peer groups and beyond. As an example, here is a poster designed by college students to be used at educational events to illustrate the factors involved in human trafficking.
The objectives of the painting project are:
- To educate youth about the dangers of human trafficking, the statistics and facts concerning human trafficking and be given the background of the occurrence of human trafficking locally, nationally and internationally;
- To assist the students in the creation of four canvas wall hangings which will express their knowledge and understanding of modern-day slavery, especially as it potentially affects their peer group;
- To bring kids from different backgrounds together to share their knowledge, talent and understanding;
- To exhibit, display and reproduce the artwork to build awareness of the crime and to interest others in this issue.
- To create a template of this project which can be shared with other communities which may wish to replicate this project.
How will these objectives be fulfilled?
This is a typical program, though we have made changes to fit the needs of the students and facilities.
During the first of five 2 hour classes, twelve students will learn about human trafficking, especially domestic minor sex trafficking. A trained art instructor will lead creativity sessions and guide the girls into coming up with ideas for 4 canvas wall-hangings which will depict the dangers and lure of human trafficking. Students are given basic art supplies so they can develop their ideas at home.
At the second session, students show their artwork and ideas for the wall-hangings and begin collaboratively sketching and painting.
At the third and fourth session, the students continue working on the wall-hangings with the guidance of volunteers who don’t tell the students what to do, but may advise them on technique if requested. Volunteers also have an opportunity to interact with students to answer questions about human trafficking and other concerns the students may have.
At the fifth session, the wall-hangings will be completed and discussion is held about how the artwork will be used. Evaluations are filled out and a small celebration is held and gifts are given to the participants as well as a community service letter the participants can use for school credit.
Healthy snacks are provided at each class.