Last week, we were pleased to join our colleagues from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) at the University of New Mexico to welcome Native youth to the Initiative for Leadership, Empowerment, and Development (I-LEAD). Youth traveled from across the country including Guam, Alaska, and American Samoa to participate in conversations about local community projects that foster Native youth resiliency and empowers them in four areas, Native youth leading, Native youth connecting, Native youth learning, and Native youth working.
Our director, Katherine Chon, joined a panel of federal leaders to listen to the experiences, priorities, and recommendations of the youth and share what the Office of Trafficking in Persons is doing to address human trafficking in Native communities, including the development of the Tribal Youth Toolkit. She also led a workshop for youth on storytelling as a tool to raise awareness about human trafficking, including a facilitated discussion on youth ideas about prevention education messages and platforms.
We also partnered with the Center for Native American Youth to train eight Native Youth Cultural Preservation Ambassadors about human trafficking, its impact on indigenous communities in the United States, and how culture can be a protective factor to prevent trafficking. We spent time brainstorming ideas for service projects or products for their own communities that are grounded in culture and related to trafficking prevention, which will also inform the work of the next group of Human Trafficking Leadership Academy fellows.