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Archive for the ‘Human Trafficking’ Category

Busy Bee Cafe

Busy Bee owner Tracy Gates with youthSpark Intern Camille Henderson

youthSpark is extremely grateful for the support of Ms. Gates and Busy Bee Café! For the past 4 years, Busy Bee has sponsored meals and other tokens of love for girls participating in our annual youthSpark Voices Recognition Ceremony. youthSpark Voices is an early intervention program for girls at risk for trafficking involvement or extremely vulnerable to exploiter. Get more information about youthSpark Voices here.

Tracy Gates, owner of The Busy Bee Cafe here in Atlanta, has certainly shown herself committed to the fight to end child sex trafficking. In honor of youthSpark Voices, Busy Bee donated catering for the 2013 Graduation and Recognition Ceremony. youthSpark Voices is the first prevention/early intervention program in Georgia working with girls deemed high risk for child sex trafficking involvement. When asked why she got involved with youthSpark and the fight to end child sex trafficking, Gates replied, “because I’m in the food business, that’s the greatest way I can give back.”

With Gates, donating food is just the beginning. Whether it’s donating clothes or helping with local donation drives, Gates is always at the ready. “It’s whenever they call,” says Gates. She continues, “Anytime that you can go beyond yourself, especially for children who don’t ask for these situations is reason for getting involved.” Gates has long expressed her commitment to the well-being of at-risk and inner city youth. In addition to her partnership with youthSpark, Gates also serves with Hands on Atlanta – a local nonprofit organization.

For Gates, good food has circulated through her family for years. Named after an observation of bees in motion, The Busy Bee Cafe in Atlanta was passed down to Tracey Gates from her father. Reflecting on her chance to run the restaurant, Gates said, “I wanted to have my turn, but wanted to brand it. It’s not just about a business that I inherited, it’s a place that God gave me.”

It certainly is evident that Gates has made Busy Bee her own. Knowing that, “the size is what people come for,” Gates is purposeful in retaining the authenticity of what Busy Bee sells. Gates made it her prerogative to learn the nature of the product which she then documented for all to share. “There is a recipe for everything here – that teaches us not to lose our hand in cooking a specific dish.” In her journey of owning a restaurant and learning what will sustain the business, Gates simply explains, “I want to be able to deliver a great product.”

Tying her first love of food back to why she became involved in the fight to end child sex trafficking Gates reflects, “Your gifts and talents are within. When you reach inside yourself that’s when you succeed.”

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day! Take our I AM AWARE Challenge and share this infographic with your friends and family via social media and tag youthSpark! Each One, Reach One!

Continuum Meme

Summer 2013 Update

Start A SparkWant more information on what youthSpark is doing to end child sex trafficking?

Check out our most recent program update! It features programmatic and organizational highlights of success as well as our strategy for ending child sex trafficking.

Take a look at our website for more information on youthSpark programs!

Special thanks to Alston & Bird LLP!

Start a Spark

Colin Kelly, partner at Alston & Bird, ignites justice and inspires change.

Special thanks to Route 2 Change sponsors Alston & Bird LLP!
We appreciate their continued support of our work to end child sex trafficking.

Route 2 Change sponsorship opportunities are still available!
Check out our official Sponsorship Package and email for more information


FBI Rescues 105 Victims of Child Sex Trafficking

The Atlanta Police Over the weekend, the FBI conducted Operation Cross Country, a three-day law enforcement action to address child sex trafficking in the United States. 105 children were recovered in 76 cities, and 150 pimps and other individuals were arrested.

From the FBI’s official press release: “Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America,” said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere, and the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable.”

We are so thankful for the FBI’s commitment to protecting our children, and to ensuring that the adults responsible for this horrific form of child abuse are held accountable for their actions.

For more information, check out the FBI’s press release and news story.

Celebrating Hope Silent Auction

Celebrating Hope Painting

The silent auction at our Celebrating Hope: Together We Can Prevent Child Sex Trafficking event will feature this gorgeous painting by Atlanta artist Tee. The starting bid for this piece will be $500.

We will be updating our website with additional items that will be featured in the silent auction, so be sure to check back.


Celebrating Hope: Together We Can Prevent Child Sex Trafficking

Thursday, June 13, 2013
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Scenario Restaurant and Lounge
4279 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30342

The entry free – a minimum donation of $30.00 – will include complimentary food from Boneheads Grilled Fish and Piri Piri Chicken and a free premium bar from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. and will highlight entertainment by a popular Atlanta DJ. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online by making a minimum donation of $30.00. When purchasing tickets online, attendees should put Scenario in the notes section to indicate their commitment to the event.

Celebrating Hope: Together We Can Prevent Child Sex Trafficking

Come out for an enjoyable evening for all those who care deeply about protecting children in Georgia! Celebrating Hope, an event hosted by Scenario Restaurant and Lounge, will allow supporters to come together and celebrate youthSpark’s journey in the fight to end the commercial sex trafficking of children and to get energized for the work that has yet to be done.

Celebrating Hope: Together We Can Prevent Child Sex Trafficking
Thursday, June 13th

Scenario Restaurant and Lounge
4279 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30342

This event, with an entry fee – a minimum donation of $30.00 – will include complimentary food from Boneheads Grilled Fish and Piri Piri Chicken, combined with a free premium bar from 6:00-7:00p.m., and highlighting entertainment by a popular Atlanta DJ.  A silent auction, featuring items from various Atlanta businesses, will also be available, with proceeds to benefit youthSpark.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at  Attendees should put Scenario in the notes section to indicate their commitment to the event.


youthSpark Igniters: Calling All High School Students!

By Sarah Conklin

As a young woman, I fondly remember my involvement in my High School’s clubs and certain religious organizations I was involved in within the community. While I was still quite young, I also had a sense of empowerment in my soul and most inner being. I went about my days truly believing that no one could stop me from doing the good I would do in the world, the only problem was that I had no outlet to act upon the dreams that were ingrained in my spirit. This sense of need to feel like I could make a difference wasn’t just in me, but also was shared with many of my friends and classmates. Many conversations were had about doing something about a social injustice or making change in a certain arena, but we always were stopped at the question of how. Looking back, our lives and lives of others would have been tremendously impacted if we had the opportunities and avenues to feel as if we were creating change through our small, but powerful, voices.

I am proud to say that youthSpark is prepared to give young people who so often are asked to just sit and listen a chance to be empowered to raise awareness, ignite justice, and inspire change. The youthSpark Igniters program is a groundbreaking project and journey for everyone involved. Pilot schools, Atlanta International School and The Westminster Schools, have been invited to start a program, club or even add this initiative to a preexisting community group, where youth will join with youthSpark in our mission of preventing and ending commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. Through “youth empowered education”, the youthSpark Igniters will raise awareness and collectively explore innovative ways to inspire change within their schools and surrounding communities. Our hope is to grow beyond these pilot schools, to community organizations and public and private schools within the Atlanta area, with a goal to educate and encourage students to creatively lift their voices and join with youthSpark in our mission to bring out the spark that inherently exists in each child, giving it a chance to shine.

When I blog again, I can share more about my personal journey of feeling silenced throughout my teenage years, what it took to find my voice, and the path that led me to youthSpark. I am so excited about what youthSpark is doing to empower this next generation to stand up and speak out in creative and innovative ways for young people like themselves. Nothing is more powerful than a young person who has been given the opportunity to lift their voice and share their story.

“If we are to reach real peace in this world… we shall have to begin with children.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

For more information about youthSpark Igniters, email

Federal Action Plan for Serving Trafficking Victims

The federal government recently released a new plan for addressing sex trafficking in the United States. This year, President Barack Obama, along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, rolled out the Coordination, Collaboration, Capacity: Federal Strategic Action Plan for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States 2013-2017.

This Plan outlines a concerted effort between 17 governmental agencies, ranging from the FBI to the Department of Agriculture, to assist victims of exploitation. The Plan has four major goals:

1.     INCREASE COORDINATION AND COLLABORATION: Increase guidance, collaboration, and civic engagement at the national, state, tribal, and local levels.

2.     INCREASE AWARENESS: Increase the understanding of human trafficking among key governmental and community leaders and the general public.

3.     EXPAND ACCESS TO SERVICES: Increase victim identification and expand the availability of services for victims throughout the United States.

4.     IMPROVE OUTCOMES: Promote effective, culturally appropriate, trauma-informed services that improve the short- and long-term health, safety, and well-being outcomes of victims.

This Action Plan provides some very useful information about how our country plans to serve victims of exploitation in the future. To read the entire Federal Strategic Action Plan, please click here.

Local Students Help youthSpark Fight Against Sex Trafficking

In order to help youthSpark in its fight against child sex trafficking, Wheeler High School students Cameron Harris and Karina Perez are organizing a “Breaking the Shackles” benefit concert.

Organized by the students, the concert will raise awareness and money for victims of child sex trafficking in the Atlanta area. All proceeds from the concert will go to youthSpark’s campaign A Future. Not a Past. that fights to stop the prostitution of children.

Headlining the concert is The Museum, a contemporary Christian rock band. Other performers are Against the Downpour, a local praise and worship band; Made Whole, a local band; and the Wheeler Funk Ensemble.

We are extremely proud to have a student, especially a male student, who wants to use his platform to raise awareness about child sex trafficking. The more young people are aware, the better they can protect themselves from predators that seek to exploit them.

“Breaking the Shackles” Benefit Concert
May 18, 2012
7:00-9:30 PM
Johnson Ferry Baptist Church
955 Johnson Road in Marietta, Georgia

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or in advance via Cash and checks will be accepted.

For more information on the event, read Cameron and Karina’s belief in the cause by clicking here.

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youthSpark, Inc. is proud to be a part of the

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youthSpark is honored to be the beneficiary of funds raised from the Walk Against Trafficking that will take place during the Quadrennial Assembly.
Get more information about the event and how you can be involved here.

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