Category Archives: Radiant Love

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Helping Foster Girls Find Value… The Arizona Princess Program

The word “prom” evokes all kinds of emotions for all kinds of people.

The range falls somewhere between nostalgia, sadness, fondness, mixed in with fear and nervous, sweaty palms!

For the girls I am about to tell you about, the word “prom” has recently taken on a whole new meaning.  That’s because until recently, a prom wasn’t likely to be in their future.

Even if the chance to go did present itself, the fact that some of these girls haven’t worn a dress since the age of 6 (if even then) would pose quite a hindrance to the whole prom thing.

If you remember my blog about The Princess Program last summer, than you’ve already guessed who these girls are.  Yes, it’s them again.  This is a group of teenage girls who are in the foster system.  The Foster system…  is another set of words that evokes a whole gamete of emotion.  But for these girls it means (among other things) not having a lot of the same experiences that a typical American teenager has… prom being one of them.

Hope & A Future is a non-profit organization that works with foster youth and they well understand the many self-esteem issues that plague many foster teens.

(The girls had a few activities in the beginning of the day to help ease them into things… and a whole set of very girly arts and crafts- like making lip gloss and bath salts- was a great way to get the day started).

And the Princess Program is one way they have begun to address this important issue.  When a girl arrives at the princess program, she is treated to a day of pampering.  She has her hair and makeup done, gets to pick out a dress that makes her say “wow” when she looks at herself in the mirror (not a common occurrence for these girls), and of course pick out all the perfect accessories to match all that fanciness she’s got going on!

(All this was done at Dolce Salon and Spa’s Arrowhead location, which is probably the coolest salon I’ve ever seen! It was glam enough that we actually had the entire dinner/dance in their building!).

(The dress shopping part all happened inside a local church that was kind enough to let us use their facilities).


And after the primping, she gets shuffled off for a full night of glamor where she gets to be treated like a princess.

And when I say “shuffled off” I actually mean, “whisked away in a hummer limo”!

The limos were a huge surprise to them and they were PSYCHED!!!

But the best part about the Princess Program is that there is so much more to it than just getting girls dressed up.  The people at Hope & A Future are very aware that telling girls they are more valuable when they are pretty, is not a very healthy message.  Of course it is true that helping a girl to look her best so that she suddenly sees beauty in herself that she never knew she had, is a very important piece to a girl’s self-esteem (if you are a girl, you know what I’m talking about).

But when the message regarding a girl’s value and identity stops there, we have a problem.  So at the Princess Program, they are very careful to communicate the intrinsic value that each girl has as a created human being and how with that value comes a certain perspective of love and respect that you can have for yourself and the world around you.  This message is communicated both overtly and inadvertently through the words and behavior of all the people that dedicate their time and energy to making The Princess Program happen.

(This girl totally cracked up laughing when the guy pushed her chair in!).

For a girl who is used to being a number in a system more than a member of a family, it is a huge deal to have such a significant amount of attention paid to her and to have people care and ask about her thoughts and opinions (even if it’s only regarding the color of a dress or to ask how she wants her hair styled).

Many of these girls have no idea how to respond this attention and their emotions go a little haywire. Luckily, Hope & A Future has a system in place to help the girls deal with the sometimes pretty severe dramas that play out in their heads as they’re going through an experience so new for them and so central to the way they view themselves and the world around them.   I mean we are talking about a massive worldview shift that can be occurring through just this one afternoon!

I think it’s safe to say that their average every day lives don’t even contain quite the same amount of the “pretty” that was around this place!

(This is in the etiquette class they took.  I was actually jealous I didn’t get to stay for longer because I think I could use a few etiquette lessons myself!).

So they have a hierarchy system of volunteers with particulars ones designated to helping with different aspects of the program (some set up, some clean up, some wash dishes, some take pictures…).  And among those groups of volunteers they have what they call “personal shoppers” who are women who have been trained by Hope & A Future and who have participated in other programs sponsored by them.

(Volunteers from the day can like our Facebook page to tag themselves in some of the photos!).

These personal shoppers have the most direct contact with the princesses throughout the day and they are equipped to handle the emotional roller coaster that sometimes hits the girls as they go through this experience.

These shoppers are also the ones who will do whatever it takes to befriend these girls and to help them loosen up and have fun.  So they sacrifice not only their time, but sometimes their dignity! If, for example, being silly and ridiculous was the one thing that would make these girls feel less silly and ridiculous themselves and enable them to relax, the personal shoppers were quick to accommodate!:-)

I was blown away watching some of these shoppers work, the compassion they demonstrated was beyond words and their talent and abilities when it comes to working with people, just amazed me.

These girls are not always the easiest people in the world to talk to and not all of them are very excited to be there (in fact most are very afraid when they first arrive) and the shoppers seem to almost magically bring them out of their shell and get them interacting and having fun like any teenager should be allowed to do every once in awhile.

It was really cool to come back to the Princess Program a second time because it gave us a new perspective on it.  This time we recognized some of the girls from last time… and I couldn’t believe the difference in them in less than a year!  Last time they were awkward, scared, and so very insecure and this time they were laughing and having a blast with the friends they had made.

I was seriously wondering if personality transplants were possible because they just did not seem like the same girls at all.  You have to remember that consistency is practically non-existent in some of these girls’ lives and they now have a group of friends and volunteers who get to know them, care for them, and will be around on a regular basis… and that alone can make all the difference in the world for them!

There was still a very noticeable change even in the girls who had never been to the program before.  By the end of the night, even the toughest, most anti-enjoying themselves girls were laughing and twirling around the dance floor like all the rest!

And now I’ve arrived to my favorite part of this past program.  Last time, I (Breanna) enjoyed the beautification process the most and watching the girls’ expressions when they saw themselves all dressed up for the first time.  This time the dancing was my favorite.  I’m tearing up again just thinking about it.  OK, try as might to explain this, there really is no way to fully describe what I saw that night.  Utter, sincere, complete joy and abandon is the best is the closest description I can give to what I saw.

Seeing these girls who came in with the word “PAIN” practically stamped all over their bodies, demeanors, and attitudes, now dancing around with a completely transformed look in their eyes to go with the biggest smile EVER on their faces…. was just almost too much for me to take in.  Every time I held my camera away from my face to fully observe the scene before me, I was just in awe of how every single person in one room could be having so much fun all at once!

No one in there was standing around tapping their foot with a slight smile…. every single person was seriously twirling, spinning, and sort of flailing (that’s the complete abandon part) and belly laughing the entire time!  It was just insane… and so very beautiful!  The volunteers were out there cutting a rug, as well as the guys who volunteered to be the girls escorts/food servers for the night.

Everyone involved was participating to the fullest and doing an amazing job of making sure these girls were having the time of their lives!

(I love the photos like this one that remind you these aren’t the kind of princesses you’re used to seeing… and these princesses kick off their painful glass slippers long before midnight!).

The rest of the night was perfect as well of course because Hope & A Future never does anything half way… everything they do is always done very well.

The food, decor, location, and the service (courtesy of the male volunteers who made the girls swoon) was just exceptional.

We were so excited that we got to be a part of it all.

So excited in fact, that we decided to get involved further with Hope & A Future as a whole.  If you are an old school fan of ours, you know about our “Radiant Love” program.  But for all you newbies out there, the main feature of this program is that we donate 10% of all our shooting profits (on weddings, portraits, and events) to different non-profit programs of our choosing.  And because we absolutely love all the things that this organization does as a whole, we are choosing them to the be the current recipients of this donation.  So if you book a senior session, family session, or your wedding with us in the next few months, just know that 10% of that is going towards this beautiful, wonderful, amazing organization who will take your money and use it to completely transform the lives of the kids they work with!

They do so much more than just The Princess Program by the way! They have camps for both younger foster children as well as teenagers (not just for girls either, they have a program called the All-Star Program for boys that is kind of the male version of the princess program). They have scholarship funds to help foster kids go to college, a life skills mentoring programs for foster kids 15 and older, and they are constantly finding new ways to help and benefit these kids and their surrounding community.  See more about Hope and A Future’s programs on their website. Make sure you also check out my blog on the last Princess Program we volunteered to do pictures for to see more photos and to read about some of the different aspects I featured in there that I didn’t mention here.

Thanks to all of our Radiant Photography fans out there who give your time and attention to reading about and caring about the things that we do!  Thanks for reading this and be sure to tell others about Hope & A Future!

Watching true beauty happen at the “Arizona Princess Program”

If you are a girl (and I’m assuming some of you are), you probably have experienced those glorious moments in your life where you get dressed up, look your best, and actually feel… dare I say it?…. pretty.

I’m not sure if we always realize the significance of those “pretty” moments, until we don’t have any for awhile… especially when it’s been a LONG while!

I (Breanna) recently got to spend time with a group of girls that have quite possibly never, ever had a “pretty moment” before.

These girls are all foster children between the ages of 12-15 and some of them have never even worn a dress before.

(I love this one of a girl in her fancy dress getting ready to trade in her Nike’s for a pair of heels).

I met this bunch at a camp called Teen Reach Adventure Camp or TRAC (sponsored by the amazing group Hope & a Future). Scottie and I were headed up there to take pictures for their special event called The Princess Program.

The goal of the Princess Program is to help these girls feel beautiful both inside and out.

The Princess Program happens on a special night of camp when the girls get all dolled up just like they would for prom (which most of these girls will never get to go to) …

…then they head over to eat a fancy meal prepared just for them…

…followed by a night of carefree dancing and fun (definitely not the norm for any of these girls).

(Aside from volunteers, we can’t legally show the faces of any of the girls involved.  It was quite a challenge to tell the story without using faces!).

Dolce Salon and Spa collects used prom dresses and bridesmaid dresses at various points throughout the year to save up quite a selection for these girls to choose from when their special night comes.

When the time comes, they put on the dress…

…get their hair and make up done courtesy of Dolce…

(or courtesy of the camp counselors if there’s a mudslide that shuts down the highway so that most of the Dolce crew isn’t able to make it… as was the case this year!).

(If you happen to be one of the people helping out in some of these photos, you can tag yourself in them on our Facebook page).

…add in some accessories…

…and prepare to be treated like royalty for the rest of night!

When I say royalty, I mean it!  I’m talking red carpet, paparazzi, and glittering everything!

Not to mention a group of studs who volunteer to escort the girls down the carpet and spend the rest of the night serving them!

They’re older guys of course, because lets face it, they’re the hottest (ha ha I’m just saying that because I always joke with Scottie about being 6 years older than me)!

In the past, we have promoted the dress drive so that all of our brides know where to send their bridesmaids to donate their dresses once the wedding’s over.  However, this year we were asked to volunteer our time to take photos for the actual Princess dinner and we couldn’t have been more honored.

Since it was our first time at this camp, we didn’t quite know what to expect so we were a little nervous.  And when we showed up at the camp, we found we weren’t the only ones who were nervous.

The girls there were dressed in old jeans, sweats, and tennis shoes and were struggling to balance both their excitement and their nerves as they anticipated the events that were to come that night!

For a girl who is more used to rejection than loving affection, it can be a very scary thing to have that much positive attention thrust on her all at once!

It was so fun to watch them go through their big transformation. They’d get their hair done and would feign indifference by saying “yeah, it looks OK I guess”, then as they put on their necklaces on they’d try to hide the smiles that were creeping out, and by the time the entire process was done, they were absolutely beaming.

I saw one girl who hadn’t even begun the hair and makeup process, but as soon as she saw herself in the dress she broke down crying.

Of course she had her “cousin” (camp counselors) right there next to her to hold her and encourage the experience she was going through as she finally felt beautiful for the first time ever.

I really loved watching the girls walking down the red carpet arm in arm with their male escorts.

As girls will do, they were all giggly about the guys who were all dressed up and about to… touch their arm (gasp)!!  It’s funny how teenage girls never change! ;-)  Aside from the shy smiles and darting glances up at the guys’ faces, my favorite part about watching this was how the guys treated them.

I know they had some coaching, but man, the guys took this and ran with it!  They only had a runways length to talk to the girl on their arm and in that time they managed to help the girls forget the awkwardness of so many eyes on them and start laughing and… well, feeling beautiful.

You could just see it happening, if there was a confidence meter that you could actually see that day, it would have started at the bottom, climbed slowly up with each “beauty station” the girls passed through, and then shot through the top as they walked down that red carpet with the guys.  SO awesome!

After their grand entrances, the girls sat down to a fabulous meal, at an equally stunning table.

I have to say, my jaw completely dropped when I saw the “ballroom”.  I mean, they had this place decked out!

I’d be surprised if there was a single piece of hot pink anything left in the state of Arizona that was not in that room once they were done decorating.

No bling, no expense, and definitely no pink was spared as this Princess dinner was created.  Just as it should be for a princess.

Props to Margie at Party Presentations for making all the shinyness happen!

The girls proceeded to sit through what was probably the first fancy meal they’ve ever had in their lives, complete with place cards, corsages, crabcakes, and cute waitors who filled up their glasses before they even got half empty.

They were living the high life… and loving every second of it.  After dinner came the dancing.  The girls learned a few dances and then got to let loose and have a little fun.

I can’t even imagine what a night like this would mean to girls who are so used to being treated the exact opposite of a princess.  I know that they will absolutely never forget it.

The best part is that this was just the first night of the TRAC camp!  When we left, they still had a couple more days to go where they had people all around them loving on them and trying to reinforce in everyway that they are each just as special as a princess.

P.S. Since one of our goals with our Radiant Love program is to spread the word about different ways to help others in your community, I couldn’t possibly end this without telling you how to get involved (fan us on Facebook to stay updated with our Radiant Love activities along with all our recent photo sessions)! There are so many ways for you to help out with this!  You can donate money (and get tax credits!), volunteer time, give your old dresses, etc, etc.  And the Princess Program is only one piece of the puzzle.  They also have TRAC camps for boys where they have an “All-Star Program“.  If you’re looking for a place to invest your time, money, or heart, I highly recommend you check out Hope & a Future because after doing it personally, I’d say it’s a VERY worthwhile investment!

A True Life Changing Experience.

Do you ever have those experiences that completely transform the tone of your entire day within an instant?  That’s how I feel every single time I read my friend Abby’s blog.  Now you might be thinking “wow, she must have some really hilarious kids, a very intense home improvement project, or an especially cute little puppy to have the ability to affect you that much”.  Umm, not so much.  Abby lives in Africa in a home for street kids.  She takes care of these kids like they are her own and she deals with situations, emotions, and tragedy that is beyond my comprehension… and way above the abilities of most 20 somethings I know, and of most 60 somethings I know actually!

(so… she’s the white one! Abby or the people on her team took all of these photos.  These are not Radiant Photos.)

The lives of street kids in Africa is something so difficult to hear about, that most people would rather not know about it.  As a result of war, the HIV/AIDS virus, and severe poverty; 13% of all children under the age of 18 in Uganda have been orphaned. Once on the streets, these children experience significant levels of all kinds of abuse and mistreatment. They are hated and feared by the rest of the community, even though they are only children.

The kids are forced to sleep wherever they can.  Since they are in danger of being taken by the corrupt police force, being kidnapped to be sold into slavery, or just receiving random beatings while sleeping, they never get to feel “safe”.

(This is where one kid chose to sleep so that it would be harder for people to get to him).

Here’s where some of the other street kids sleep.

These children, who are left to fend for themselves in a community that is out to destroy them, are the children that Abby provides shelter, food, medical care, education, counseling, friendship, and family to.

She has 14 of these children in her home in Kivulu and she (along with others in her organization, “A Perfect Injustice“) support another 100 street kids through a program that meets 3 times a week that provides many of the same things that the children who live in the home receive.

(Here’s Abby, providing medical care at the clinic.)

(There are much more graphic photos of her doing this on her blog, but I figured there were some people who wouldn’t appreciate seeing those!)

A Perfect Injustice” also financially supports other street kids who have been sent to boarding schools where they receive the care, attention, and education they need.  Thanks to the commitment and love that Abby and others have shown towards these kids, all these children are now being healed (medically, emotionally, and relationally).  They now stand a chance for the kind of life that every child deserves to experience.

(birthday party!)

(They love soccer)!

(I think this photo is my personal favorite.  This pictures just says “family” to me).

Now that we’ve been exposed to what she’s doing over there, we couldn’t help but participate!  We support various non-profit organizations through our “Radiant Love” program so we’ve supported Abby in the past… and we can’t help but support her again now.  So for every wedding we book from now until we change organizations (at an undetermined date), 10% of our shooting fees are going towards supporting these kids and the changes they are working so hard to make in their lives. (Click to read more about our Radiant Love Program and click here to see organizations we’ve supported in the past).

Nothing I can say could ever communicate what’s really going on with Abby and these kids in Africa.  Luckily, Abby has an extraordinary talent for writing (and photography!) and uses these skills to reveal her heart and explain her world to everyone who takes the time to read about it.

So please, PLEASE take the time to read at least this one blog post from her regular blog that we believe is life changing.  If you don’t love it, then you never have to read another blog by her again (even though we might still share her posts on our blog from time to time)… but I think you’ll be hooked!

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Danger! Hatari!

location: Kamapala
mood: heartbroken
music: Immanuel Jal

Street kids are not dangerous, no, street kids live in a world of danger.

We had another boy shot by police officers a couple of nights ago. He was doing nothing, absolutely nothing wrong and he was shot in the leg for it. A couple nights later he got very, very badly beaten again.
All of last week as well was too difficult for our street kids. The police and bad people continued to come in at night and beat the children up, steal from them, and arrest the older boys. One of the male social workers who works in Kisenyi (the primary slum the kids in our program live in) told us that we had reduced numbers of kids coming that week because there were many that were beaten so badly they couldnt travel the short distance over to our programs.
I will never forget the boys who came up to me just last week to tell me that they were hurting because they were beaten by police the night before. Joseph put his arm around my shoulder and told me as tears began to fall down his face that his body hurt because he kept getting beaten at night. When I told him that I prayed for him every night and that we were all working to do something about it he began to walk away sadly.
Last night I was talking to a volunteer who was staying in a babies home in Kampala. She told me that she had come to Uganda because her friend was telling her it was such a beautiful, safe and easy country.
That hit me so hard that I couldnt say anything (until I slowly recovered and tried my best to politely agree with her). How can one city have two worlds that are so completely different. How can a girl enter and leave a country and believe that it is a place that is purely safe, easy and beautiful?
I am having a hard time lately, I entered so easily into the world of street kids. Entered into their hearts, their lives, their dreams…
“I want to study.”
“I want to have a home.”
“I want to go home with you.”
“I want to have a job.”
“I want to be safe.”
“I want to not be beaten at night.”
And now I am beginning to enter so quickly into their pain, or at least a piece of it and it is not easy. Street children are so tough, stronger than any child, any person should ever have to be. You would never believe what they go through when you see their beautiful smiles, they still have found a way to grasp joy and love.
Street children are… children. They should be going to school and getting hugs when they enter the house. THey should not only be tucked in at night but have a bed or at least a blanket to sleep with.
And yet my children sleep in alleyways and gutters. They get sick because they eat from garbage cans. They get arrested and put in prison. They cant go a week without getting beaten. They cant keep a pair of shoes because they get stolen off their feet. They get abused in every way.
When I first came to Uganda several years ago I really wrestle with God about how He could allow people to suffer the way that they do. I dont struggle with that anymore. I have poured out my heart to Him, I know He listens. I know that He feels more pain than sweet Joseph when Joseph is kicked with police officers steel toed boots, when he is beaten by battons and hit with rocks. God has a heart that not only hears but resonates with street children, He is one. I see Jesus’ face in my kids. I feel so close to God when I am with them. I feel so alive.
God has a heart for the suffering and He has given us a large call to do something about those that are opressed and abused. One day He will lift up all of those who have suffered injustice and He will punish those who have oppressed the orphan and the widow.
It hurts my heart yes, it actually breaks it but it is so worth it to enter into their worlds and to bring them light. To tell them about a God that loves them. To play with them. To lift them up and tell them that I love them and what they are so good at.

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Posted on Jul. 12th, 2009 at 10:11 am

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Of course Abby has many more AMAZING pics on her blog and also some videos that help you really connect to the kids that she’s dedicated her lives to.  Here are some of my favorite cute kid pics of hers!

(Abby has stories about all these kids on her blog).

(Abby said that he carries his little brother rain or shine, even when he’s stuck wearing snow bibs (and sweating profusely because of it). She said it took so many shots to get this picture because he would never push back when all of the other kids crowded as close as possible for the picture).

(She said it was really hot out this day, but he loved the jacket so much, he wouldn’t take it off)!


Scottie and I have committed to reading at least 1 blog post from Abby every day for the next 2 weeks.  We want to be reminded every morning that there are bigger things going on in the world than we see every day in our tiny little lives.  We hope you will join us in this commitment to be inspired every day by how love can change everything.

Radiant Love Supports… Stepping Stones of Hope (Sept. 09)

Stepping Stones of Hope is an organization that assists families in the grieving process after the loss of a loved one.  They provide a first steps program in the initial months following the loss and then encourage members to attend Camp Paz (Peace) about 5-6 months later.  Camp Paz attendees are then offered the opportunity to attend After Camp Family Support Groups to help them continue in their journey of healing.

ssoh

The First Steps Program….

provides grieving families support during the early months of the grief process when the death may not yet seem real. Support at this stage is very important and can be very different from what is needed several months later. The First Steps program closes the gap between the time of the actual loss and the time that has been identified as the most beneficial period to address an individual’s thoughts and feelings as the adjustment to the loss takes place.

Camp Paz for Kids….
is a program designed to give children whose lives have been interrupted by the death of a loved one, who may be struggling with their feelings, an opportunity to be around others who are living the same experience. Camp Paz helps participants build self esteem, reduce feelings of guilt, reduce anxiety about showing feelings of grief, diminish the profound sense of isolation and loneliness, decrease fear by understanding the causes of death, diminish fears that loved ones will be forgotten, teach healthy coping skills, help them to understand that everyone grieves differently and to increase friendships with peers who share the common experience of the death of a loved one.
Camp Paz for Kids provide a safe place for these children to express themselves. Through art, equestrienne therapy, music, role-playing, and a lot of talking and laughing, kids learn about death and dying. And, they learn how to begin to cope. At the same time nearby, adult family members are learning too, exploring their grief through journaling, music, art, self-care, relaxation and dialogue. And they discover ways they can best support the children who share their loss.

Camp Paz for Grown ups….
is similar to Camp Paz for kids in that adults focus on their own grief journey. After working on their own needs, they then transition into how to best help the grieving children in their life. For many adults, this program provides the first opportunity to focus on there unique feelings without worrying about their children, or worrying about how children may respond to a display of emotions. The majority of adult participants forge indescribable bonds with other participants, and many have formed significant friendships.

After Camp Family Support Groups….
follow Camp Paz to help continue the healing. Groups are open to any family who participated in the previous weekend program, and they are facilitated as a family unit. Each session builds upon the other, and each are designed to build family cohesion, promote mutual respect, and encourage open and honest dialogue all which ultimately strengthen the family unit.

Community action…
is very important to Stepping Stones of Hope.  They partners with other organizations to create the Grief at School & Grief at Work programs to educate personnel on how to help grieving individuals.  Stepping Stones of Hope also puts on a grief & bereavement conference for 2,000 members of the Arizona community annually.  In addition to all of that, Stepping Stones of Hope also partners with schools in the Maricopa County School district to offer mini grief camps on participating school campuses for both adults and children.

Goals of Stepping Stones of Hope programs include:
1. Teach about four dimensions of grief: physical, spiritual, mental and emotional.
2. Help participants build self-esteem.
3. Reduce feelings of guilt and anxiety about showing feelings of grief.
4. Teach skills to help diminish profound sense of isolation and loneliness.
5. Introduce healthy coping skills and appropriate ways to cope with anger.
6. Increase participant’s understanding about causes of death.
7. Eliminate fears that loved ones will be forgotten.
8. Help participants understand that everyone’s grief is unique.
9. Increase friendships with peers who share a common experience.
10. Introduce Worden’s Four Tasks of Grief for adults, and Goldman’s Four Psychological Tasks for children.

Visit Stepping Stone of Hope’s website to learn more about the organization.

To find out more about Radiant Love Supports click here.

Radiant Love Supports….Branded (Summer ’09)

branded

Branded is a collaboration of Government, Business, Church, and University leaders who have come together to eradicate sexual exploitation of children in Phoenix.

Attacking the Problem

Churches, law enforcement, government officials, market place leaders, non-profit organizations and passionate individuals have joined forces to fight against the sexual exploitation of children. They have come together to raise advocacy, develop preventative programs, and build a holistic secure community for rehabilitation of those coming out of the darkness of that world. The ultimate desire is to meet the physical, spiritual, and social needs of children affected by sex slavery, being committed to the rescue and renewal of the “one”.

Awareness

When people think of Human Trafficking or Sex Slavery most would consider it an issue elsewhere. Thailand… China… Eastern Europe… We need to let people know that it happens in Phoenix, and it happens frequently! The average age of entry into prostitution in the city of Phoenix is 13 years old. A 7th grade girl. In NO way is this acceptable. Therefore, one way that the public can act to prevent this issue from occuring is by raising awareness. Simply by getting the word out, educating others on the issue, and making potential-victims aware of these dangers, we will prevent girls from falling prey. If our city is to rid itself from this evil, the general public most be made aware of its existence.

Legislation

There is a great need to revise and submit key legislation that will protect girls that are victims, and prosecute those who gain from child rape for profit. Based on provisions and loop-holes in the current laws, Johns are able to walk away from their crimes with not much more than a small fine. This, while under-age girls are charged as criminals instead of treated as victims. The BRANDED movement is poised to confront our lawmakers about this injustice, and encourage them to make a change in the law.

Aftercare

As of now, the only option available options for a charged prostitute that is a minor, is to either be sent to a Juvenile Detention Center, be admitted into Child Protective Services, or return home. Victims of sexual abuse, and particularly sex trafficking, suffer from a variety of psychological, physical and social wounds that must be treated within a controlled and supportive setting. We see the need to provide an alternative to the punitive options currently available. One that openly accepts these girls as victims to be treated, and not criminals to be penalized. Please visit our partner organization - StreetLight – to embrace the vision of a village of hope.

Branded Website |    Branded Facebook |    Branded Twitter