In 2016, the Chris Mikesell Foundation provided a grant of $2,000 to support ICT S.O.S. and its Fresh Start Program. ICT S.O.S. is a project-based organization that acts as a liaison between specific local professional groups who work with trafficked youth and the Wichita volunteers who seek ways to be involved in finding solutions. This grant will provide more than 20 Fresh Start bags full of necessities tailored to the specific youth who receives it.
One advocate’s story:
“I wanted to let you know we handed out a Fresh Start bag yesterday and the girl absolutely loved it. She has experienced a tremendous amount of ill treatment and she was emotional one overcome with excitement while she went through the bag. The bag itself was really exciting because she doesn’t have one. She loved the purple fleece blanket and how soft was. She was so excited for the new clothes, she had to take the tags off the new hoodie and wear it out of hour office. Again, those are items we take for granted on a daily basis but they are things she was deprived of for a long time and it was empowering for her to be able to choose her own things.”
Need: Kansas is at a crossroads of America’s sex-trafficking highway. According to Officer Kent Bauman (Wichita-Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit, “The pimps have routes they travel… they include I-35 and I-70.” Police documented pimps recruiting girls as young as 12 from Wichita and selling them across the nation.
History of ICT S.O.S.: Founded by Jennifer White, ICT S.O.S. is a grassroots organization born from a Wichita Eagle article written by Ron Sylvester about the heartbreaking and devastating story of a 13-year-old girl being sold for sex.
ICT S.O.S. serves as a liaison between those escaping sexual exploitation and trafficking and professional organizations that can help. Just as S.O.S. is a distress signal or call for help, ICT S.O.S. broadcasts a cry for help for our city’s endangered youth. ICT S.O.S. works to provide all things that some of us may take for granted, such as a duffle bag full of clean clothes and toiletries to a recently rescued boy or girl.
How the Fresh Start Program Works: Each duffle bag is created for a specific gender and size and is labeled so that officers, advocates and social workers can easily get what is needed without delay. The bag’s contents were decided based on a collaborative effort from police officers, child abuse and sex abuse victims, and social workers.
Every Fresh Start Bag contains new clothing, hygiene items, a comfort item and a fast food gift card. For example, a younger child usually receives a blanket and age-appropriate toy, and teens and young adults receive a journal and pen.
ICT S.O.S. currently distributes Fresh Start bags to Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County, Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center, Youthville Secure Care and Wichita Children’s Home staff Secure Unit.