The University of Pittsburgh at Titusville in conjunction with Titusville Women’s Services and the Titusville YWCA will kick off the “Red Sand Project” on Thursday, October 13, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the campus in Henne Auditorium with guest speakers Rose Hilliard and Melanie Reynolds.

Artist Molly Gochman created the Red Sand Project in 2014 to call attention to those who metaphorically “fall through the cracks” of human trafficking, including children, girls, and refugees, and to inspire passersby to join her in literally spreading awareness of the issue in their communities

Participants are invited to fill sidewalk cracks with red sand or other materials, and then share an image of their transformation with the global community using #RedSandProject. These installations remind us that we can’t merely ‘mind the gap’ and walk over the most overlooked and marginalized populations in our communities – those who fall through the metaphoric cracks.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.

Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States.

Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.

According to a recent report from the Joint State Commission in Pennsylvania, The crime of human trafficking is growing in Pennsylvania with the Crime Victim Center of Erie County reporting that the two most common forms of human trafficking, sex trafficking and drug trafficking exist locally.

Human trafficking has become the second fastest growing criminal industry — just behind drug trafficking — with children accounting for roughly half of all victims. Of the 2,515 cases under investigation in the U.S. in 2010, more than 1,000 involved children.

The Commonwealth has seen many local and regional collaborative responses rise to combat this crime. Inroads have been made in public awareness, training first responders, and in providing services to the many victims.

Pitt-Titusville along with the Titusville YWCA and Women’s Services will be covering the streets with the sight of red sand seeping into the sidewalks cracks within the next few weeks in an effort to raise awareness locally.

If you or your organization are interested in more information on how you may become involved, join us for the kick-off event Thursday evening.  This event is open to the community at no charge.