Grant for Braking Traffik

September  27, 2013

     A grant from Royal Neighbors will help educate local children about the sexual exploitation of children. Wednesday the life insurance company based in Rock Island presented a check for $7,500  to Cathy O'Keefe, executive director of a group called Braking Traffik.

     O'Keefe says she first became aware of sex trafficking while living in China.

     "Because I saw a lot of young women and girls who were being exploited sexually and wanted to get more involved. Started educating myself and realized we have a huge problem here in the United States."

     And when she returned to this country, she joined Braking Traffik, founded by former Iowa state senator Maggie Tinsman of Bettendorf.

     During the past year, the group started a pilot program at six Quad Cities schools and educated about 1,000 students. It includes a documentary about a 13 year old sex trafficking victim.

     "The kids in all six schools said the same thing which was "she's not from here." That sends a message to us that they understand that sex trafficking happens to kids in the US but they didn't really feel it's happening here in the Quad Cities."

     O'Keefe will use the Royal Neighbors grant to film a new documentary featuring victims from the Quad Cities, Dubuque, and Cedar Rapids. And it should be ready by next spring.