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New after-school program teaches sexual exploitation awareness

Staff Report

ROCKFORD – The Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (RAASE) and the Juvenile Enhanced Response Team (JVERT) of the City of Rockford Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention are bringing a new curriculum into the community.

With grants from the United Way of Rock River Valley and the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois Community Grants Program, they are implementing a program called My Life My Choice. The program, aimed at girls ages 12-18, uses survivor voices to empower vulnerable youth to be agents of change in their own lives and in the movement to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Today, more than a dozen survivors and advocates will receive training to lead the curriculum locally. This training will allow participants to provide 75-minute sessions to the target audience for 10 weeks.

Developed in 2002, My Life My Choice curriculum will be piloted as an after-school program at Lincoln Middle School. The survivor endorsed and led program features sessions on myths and facts about commercial sexual exploitation, how to identify a pimp, recruitment tactics, substance abuse, self-Esteem, sexual health and healthy relationships. The goal is to reach more than 115 girls over a 12-month period.

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