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Red sand on a sidewalk… Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition participating in Red Sand Project

Red sand on a sidewalk is being used to spark a conversation.
According to Jilian Reece, Director of the Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition, the red sand on sidewalks is meant to signify human trafficking awareness.
The annual event has been held by the organization over the last couple of years and serves as part of the Red Sand Project, which was started by Molly Gochman in 2014.
The project’s website details that an estimated 40.3 million people are forced into slavery (forced marriages, forced labor, or forced sexual exploitation).
“The approach was symbolic, with the grains of sand representing those individuals who fall through the cracks,” the website states.
Reece detailed that the Drug Prevention Coalition began participating in the project after her youth coalition brought it to her attention. Luckily, this year’s event was able to remain in-person at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library.
People at the event could stop by a table to be informed of the project and info regarding human trafficking.
They were then given a bag of red sand and encouraged to create a sidewalk display around the library. Bags of sand are still available at the library for pick up only while supplies last so that people may do their own demonstration at a place of their choosing.
“It kind of opens conversations when people see red sand on sidewalks and ask what it means,” she said.
Reece detailed her focus in the project.
“For me in particular as the Drug Prevention Coalition, we focus a lot on trauma and adverse childhood experiences,” she explained. “Victims of human trafficking clearly have trauma and we need to be having conversations about what people have been through and how we can help with that.”
Reece went on to detail the importance of discussing such topics.
“I think it’s a common misconception that this is only something that happens in big cities and other countries, and we know it happens everywhere,” she said. “It can happen here, it can happen to anyone.”
Reece explained that information on these topics is important for both prevention and in also aiding survivors.
For more information on the Red Sand Project, one can go to www.redsandproject.org.
For information and resources in Tennessee regarding work against human trafficking, visit www.growfreetn.org.