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11/9/2012 11:11:00 AM
Walk to end human trafficking draws 300
St. Mary's Academy photo
St. Mary's Academy students take part in a walk to end human trafficking.
St. Mary's Academy photo
St. Mary's Academy students take part in a walk to end human trafficking.

Months of planning came to fruition Oct. 6, when five St. Mary's Academy seniors hosted the 2012 Walk to End Slavery in downtown Portland. The walk was organized by the nonprofit Youth Ending Slavery. St. Mary's senior Allison Nasson is the founder and executive director.

The one-mile walk began and ended in Director Park and drew approximately 300 people. It featured speeches by Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel and the YES board of directors and signage educating people about the labor policies of various downtown retailers.

The walk also raised about $1,000 for Athena House, Janus Youth Programs' shelter for juvenile sex-trafficking victims in Portland.

"It was so inspiring to be surrounded by people who were willing to give up their time to try and make a difference," said Nasson, a 17-year-old Portland resident. "It was also great to see people of all ages, because it showed that despite any generational differences, this is an issue that people can come together over."

Nasson's passion for educating people about modern-day slavery and the fight to end it began three years ago when she watched a video on human trafficking in St. Mary's Human Rights Club.

"Human trafficking is an issue that really affects young women not only internationally but also in our own country and city. It's much less removed from our lives than we'd like to think it is," Nasson said.

Social justice is part of the education at St. Mary's. Human trafficking is one of the  stands of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, the religious order that founded St. Mary's. 

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