Despite being organized as a virtual event this year, more than 450 students, faculty, staff and alumni from Walsh University participated in the Community Freedom Summit to raise awareness on the issues of human trafficking. This is the second year Walsh has collaborated with the local organization Not for Sale: One Step at a Time in support of the international movement to abolish human trafficking on Saturday, October 17.

View photos from the day here

Not for Sale: One Step at a Time is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing human trafficking and providing education to bring awareness to this modern-day tragedy. This is the fifth year for the Community Walk for Freedom. This year’s event featured a Community Virtual Education Hour with interviews from survivors, local agencies, organizations and community partners including insight from Walsh President Dr. Tim Collins and  nationally recognized author Theresa Flores.  

This year’s event was organized with COVID precautions in place such as implementing 6-feet between each walker, masks and staggered starts on the one-mile route around campus. The single file, silent walk at Walsh included over 350 Walsh athletes from 10 teams, student organizations and numerous faculty, staff and alumni from as far away as California and Florida. The event drew international attention with people from Brentonico Italy walking in solidarity with the Walsh University in support of this important initiative.  Those opting to participate from their own walking routes, made signs and shared photos with the @NotforSaleOneStepAtaTime to help raise awareness.

The ongoing partnership between the two organizations has also helped to inspire other groups to get involved in multiple counties including the Knights of Columbus from St. Hillary Parish in Fairlawn. Stark County walks this year were held in North Canton, Canton, Perry and Jackson Township organized by a high school team of volunteers from Jackson High School.

“Inspired by Walsh’s partnership with Not for Sale, we felt it necessary to do our part to participate in this walk,” said high school senior Makenzie Morgan who along with her co-organizer Alyson Stanislawski created the Jackson walk. “We have been studying human trafficking for almost two years now and we have developed a common passion and goal: we need to do our part to end human trafficking. Since COVID has affected Walsh’s ability to host, we thought we could bring the Jackson community together to spread awareness.”

Morgan and Stanislawski are a part of Jackson High Schools JAGS program (Jackson Academy for Global Studies). They promoted the event through email, Facebook and fliers in the school while working with Jackson High School administration to organize a group of about 150 people to walk on October 17.

“Walsh does incredible things for their students and community by educating them on bigger issues. If nothing else, we wish to do the same and educate the Jackson community on what human trafficking is and how everyone can do their part to help,” said Morgan. “We will continue to work with our school and community to do everything we can to change the lives of victims of human trafficking. Walsh, Not For Sale, and JAGS have inspired us to organize this walk and challenged us as human beings, students, and members of our community to get involved.”