For All Seasons recently partnered with the Dorchester County Detention Center to bring awareness about human trafficking through its Red Sand Project. Across the Shore, participants have poured red sand into sidewalk cracks and used the time to start a discussion about the causes and effects of human trafficking and exploitation. The red sand represents the victims of human trafficking who have slipped through the cracks yet may still be hiding in plain sight.
Susan Ahlstrom, Trauma, Addiction, Mental Health and Recovery (TAMAR) Coordinator at For All Seasons, who works with women who are incarcerated in the Dorchester County Detention Center, introduced the Red Sand Project to Kenneth Rodgers, the facility’s director. He got his maintenance staff on board to create a large, grey board that was routed to replicate the sidewalk outside so the women could participate inside the gym. The routed board had adhesive so the sand would stick – the idea of one of the women who participated so that the board could be a permanent reminder inside the facility of the importance of this issue.
“I also reviewed the subject of Human Trafficking and the history of the Red Sand Project with the TAMAR participants during the sessions. Human trafficking facts and statistics were shared and the women were educated about the high incidence of trafficking in our area and the aspects of trauma surrounding such an experience. Overall, the women were familiar with some aspects of the issue, but become more aware of the scope and prevalence of the problem. They were very engaged and the staff also became interested in the project and were quite outspoken about the magnitude of the problem. The Warden and staff were pleased with the outcome and the consensus was that it had become a collaborative/community work of art,” Ahlstrom commented.
“It was great how responsive the Warden and other staff members were to this Human Trafficking awareness project. I appreciated their willingness to work with For All Seasons to help bring this learning experience to the women at Dorchester County Detention Center. Hands-on learning experiences like this one are not always easy to implement in a correctional environment, but they are always impactful.”
Rebecca Woodward, LMSW, Dorchester Addiction Reentry/Treatment (DART) Program Coordinator at the Dorchester Detention Center and with the Dorchester County Behavioral Health, also joined in on the effort.
“There is so much to be said about why projects like this are important. Women who experience incarceration have often survived many traumas, including human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking. Some women do not realize that they have been trafficked because of the psychological component of the abuse and many women have shame around their experiences. Raising awareness helps provide education on what human trafficking is, and dismantles that shame. It lets people know that the abuse is not their fault and that they are not alone. This provides a pathway to healing,” Woodward remarked.
“The program offered through For All Seasons is very important to the facility to help stop recidivism and help the female detainees cope. Some of the females that enter this facility have trauma-based criminal activity, from the use of drugs to theft and human trafficking. Their self-esteem has been shattered so they start to rely/count on outside stimulants to be able to, in their mind’s eye, survive,” commented Director Kenneth Rodgers, Dorchester County Detention Center.
“I believe when the female detainees were able to participate in the Red Sand activity, it gave them some strength back, being able to recognize the inhumane existents of this terrible anomaly of Human Trafficking. Being able to show the ones who have been lost in the cracks can help us as a nation, put a stop to this crime against society.”
The Red Sand Project board is currently on display at the Dorchester Center for the Arts, 321 High Street, Cambridge, Maryland.
For All Seasons provides the highest quality mental health and victim services to children, adults, and families across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Services are offered in both English and Spanish and include therapy, psychiatry, victim advocacy, 24-hour crisis hotlines, outreach, and community education. For further information, contact For All Seasons at 410-822-1018 or visit forallseasonsinc.org.