A team of students from the Delaware Area Career Center will head to a Business Professionals of America state competition and present a video it made about human trafficking.
The team of seniors — Kasey Runyon, a Thomas-Worthington High School student; Reese White, a Big Walnut High School student; Madison Dyll, an Olentangy High School student; and Brian Whitesel, a Big Walnut student — were given the task of shooting a video to get people to donate to a charity of their choice.
Dyll said the team chose the topic of human trafficking and selected the Salvation Army as its charity.
“Human trafficking is kind of a prevalent issue in Ohio, so I wanted to shine a light on that,” Dyll said.
White said the team considered doing a “sad dogs, sad music” video but opted to take on a more complex topic.
“We didn’t want to do anything anyone else was doing,” White said.
Dyll, the video’s writer, said they put together a script that followed the common perception that human trafficking is about people getting kidnapped off the street. It wasn’t until they spoke to an expert on the subject from United Way of Delaware County that they understood the reality of the subject.
“The irony was that we really didn’t know much about human trafficking,” Dyll said. “We spoke to Brande Urban, (director of community impact experience for the United Way) and we scrapped our original script.”
White, the video’s director, said the story in the video, titled “Modern Day Slavery,” follows a woman’s fall into prostitution, which many people don’t realize is a form of human trafficking.
“Those girls on the street aren’t out there voluntarily,” White said. “There’s something going on behind the scenes. You can drive down the street and see it happening.”
White said after they presented the video at the BPA regional competition, the judges told them they didn’t know that prostitution was a form of human trafficking.
Dyll added that after the regional competition, the Salvation Army saw the video and was glad the group didn’t go with the kidnapping misconception.
“They really liked our video and are planning to use it to inform people about what human trafficking is,” Dyll said.
White said the team went to the national conference for BPA last year and is committed to making to nationals again this year.
“It feels like we are making a bigger difference,” White said. “Originally, we just wanted to go far in this competition and top what we did last year, but then as we took on this pretty daunting topic, it’s done well with the Salvation Army and it feels relevant to society today. To me, that means a lot more than any results we could get in the competition.”
On top of the positive reception from the Salvation Army, along with the positive feed received from the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office, the students said the video was a great learning experience.
White said that last year, the group’s cinematographer, Brian Whitesel, had just picked up the job, adding he was very impressed with Whitesel’s work this year.
“We all learned our specific roles and how to work as a team,” White said. “Brian killed it. We went a lot bigger than last year.”
The team said it adjusted little bits of the video based on judge’s feedback from the regional competition before formally resubmitting the video for the state competition. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony March 13 in Columbus.
The team will be handing out a pamphlet with the video directing people to more information about the Salvation Army and its programs related to human trafficking.
“From a girl’s standpoint, I think this topic is really important to me,” Dyll said. “When they came and talked to us, they said, ‘These are your mothers, your sisters, your neighbors, your daughters.’ It effects everyone. It can happen to men as well, obviously, but speaking from my standpoint, I didn’t realize how easy it could be to get trapped in something like this, and I hope it’ll help girls of my age who are in this situation. It’s a scary thing, but I’m glad we could educate people on this.”
The team said the video is currently private until the competition but said, it will be made public after the national competition later this semester.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.