Junior educates community on sex trafficking

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Jeanne Assing Schroeder

Junior Riley Schroeder has spread awareness about the dangers of human trafficking in the Cleveland community. Mrs. Lacy Long-Goldberg, Riley’s English teacher last year, said about him, “Riley is very eager to learn, always has an open mind, and is very willing to listen.”

Gia Arnold and Sam Bremec

Junior Riley Schroeder visited the Renee Jones Empowerment Center last year as part of a school project. It led to him becoming a youth ambassador for sex trafficking.

One of Schroeder’s main takeaways from visiting the Empowerment Center was facing the reality that human trafficking takes place so close to home.

Schroeder said, “It definitely helped me be more aware of atrocities that happen. Like with human trafficking, you always have the mindset that it happens over there, but it never happens over here. But in reality, it happens everywhere.”

Schroeder admits he didn’t know much about sex trafficking until learning about it with Ethan Fong and Aaron Florman as part of a school project. He said, “[My group and] I kinda decided that it would be a good experience for us to go to an unorthodox environment and try to go someplace where we were all a little bit unaware of, just like with human trafficking.”

The school project was called “better the world” and took place in his English/Social Studies cross-curricular class with Mrs. Lacy Long-Goldberg and Mr. Michael Hughes. Schroeder said, “It wasn’t until we interviewed Renee Jones, founder of the Renee Jones Empowerment Center, that we decided to try to educate uneducated people about human trafficking.”

Schroeder estimates he spent between 20-30 hours on this project in total. “Our inspiration definitely came from Mrs. Long-Goldberg and Mr. Hughes. They were so passionate about us helping our community and we wanted to emulate that passion in our work. We simply try hard to make them proud,” Schroeder said.

Long-Goldberg was impressed by Schroeder and his teammates’ group presentation for their final project. She said, “Many students were delayed by the pandemic, but these gentlemen were very passionate in finishing the project and implementing what they learned to help educate others.”

Florman believes Schroeder has always been passionate about helping others. “I originally sensed that he was an empathetic and hardworking individual who cared greatly for others. While working on this project, my thoughts on him as a person were very well supported through his continued concern for others,” Florman said.

Schroeder admits his life was positively impacted by becoming a youth ambassador at the Renee Jones Empowerment Center. He said, “It made me more aware of that and it made me learn how big of a deal it is helping people understand that and helping people who have been affected by that and how big of a deal that is.”

Even after the class project ended, Schroeder finished his “better the world” assignment by continuing to stay involved at the Renee Jones Empowerment Center. He said, “There is never going to be a complete resolution to human trafficking. Our goal is to be as vocal about the problem while informing groups uneducated on trafficking.”