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New club promotes activism against slavery

At+the+school+musical+earlier+this+month%2C+which+included+themes+like+enslavement+and+oppression%2C+the+members+of+Students+Ending+Slavery+took+the+opportunity+to+educate+the+audience+on+present-day+slavery+and+raise+money+for+the+club.+
At the school musical earlier this month, which included themes like enslavement and oppression, the members of Students Ending Slavery took the opportunity to educate the audience on present-day slavery and raise money for the club.

At the school musical earlier this month, which included themes like enslavement and oppression, the members of Students Ending Slavery took the opportunity to educate the audience on present-day slavery and raise money for the club.

Rachel Dudley

Rachel Dudley

At the school musical earlier this month, which included themes like enslavement and oppression, the members of Students Ending Slavery took the opportunity to educate the audience on present-day slavery and raise money for the club.

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Recently, a new club has been created, representing a larger movement to end the slavery that exists in the modern world. Junior Alice Lillydahl has established a chapter of Students Ending Slavery at Libertyville High School.

“[Free the Slaves] is an incredible organization that works all around the world to prevent slavery, free slaves, and help those affected by slavery adjust once they’ve been freed,” Lillydahl said. Her new club is sponsored by the organization, and they work side by side to combat the problem together.

Every Tuesday, members of the club gather to discuss the history of slavery as well as how to advocate for the victims’ freedom. Reese Dannenfeldt, vice president of the growing club, feels that the world in Libertyville can be a bit small, but it’s important to maintain perspective about how big the world truly is and the impact that individuals can each have on it.

“After traveling to Cambodia this summer, I realized that I wanted to be involved in more clubs that help people internationally. In all honesty, I believe that all individuals, no matter their characteristics and hobbies, want to make the world a better place in whatever way they can,” she said

Modern slavery isn’t legal anywhere, yet it’s found everywhere. Researchers estimate that 40 millions are enslaved worldwide, earning traffickers an illicit $150 billion each year, as noted by a U.N. International Labor Organization study.

Club founder and president Lillydahl really connected with Free the Slaves’ purpose.

I believe LHS is the perfect place to start a club like this because so many students at LHS are always looking for a way to engage with the world in a positive way and make an impact in all different parts of the globe,” she said.

Free the Slaves was founded in 2000 and works with grassroots groups, international aid and development institutions, non-governmental organizations, advocacy coalitions, governments and journalists. In the past 17 years, they have liberated 13,000 people from slavery, according to the organization’s website. Lillydahl wants that number to grow.

“Our goal as a club is to fundraise, educate and advocate. We want to bring a higher level of awareness to LHS and donate as much money as we can to Free the Slaves so that they can continue their important work,” she said. “It’s difficult because many think of slavery as a thing of the past.”

Mr. Matthew Wahl is the club’s sponsor and also one of the school’s AP Human Geography teachers; he has a real passion for the cause.

One of my goals as a teacher is to have students be aware of issues on a global scale and take action. The fact that Alice did this all on her own speaks volumes about her as a student,” he said. “For her, making a difference is much more important than a grade or a score on an AP exam.”

One day, he showed his AP Human Geography class a video about modern-day slavery, and it really struck a chord with the students, Lillydahl especially, who remembered, “The pictures shown in the TED Talk by Lisa Kristine are real and raw, but she ends the video with pictures of slaves in various countries holding candles, symbolizing hope and the need to shed light on their situation. The video really struck me. So I looked up Free the Slaves and saw it was possible to create student chapters.”

Dannenfeldt agreed: “When Alice brought up the idea of this club last year, I was immediately on board. Everyone else in my class was too.”

In the future, the club has a lot of goals and even more ideas to reach them. Currently, they are trying to coordinate an event with Rahab’s Daughter, an organization that specializes in the rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of human trafficking survivors, which involves the painting of bricks for the Super Bowl.

“The Super Bowl is the biggest yearly event in the United States in which human trafficking occurs,” Dannenfeldt notes. “By painting informative messages and putting antislavery phone numbers on the bricks and placing them around the stadium of the football field, our hope is that any individual being taken or placed into human trafficking will see the information and use it to get help.”

Anyone interested in the club is welcome to join Students Ending Slavery, which meets after school every other Tuesday in Room 221.

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New club promotes activism against slavery