Over the summer, current and former Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute (PRHYLI) students from the Capital Region Delegation worked at local events to raise awareness about, and to take a stand against human trafficking.
Led by current PRHYLI student Sabrina Medina from the Rensselaer City School District, students manned the Questar III BOCES PHRYLI booth during the Albany Latin Festival in Washington Park on August 22 and at the Hannaford Hispanic Heritage Celebration at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center on September 22.
The Institute’s purpose is to foster the leadership skills of Latino students and to introduce them to New York State’s legislative process. After conducting extensive research on the topic, PRHYLI delegates selected human trafficking as this year’s advocacy issue.
During the September 22 event, Congressman Paul Tonko stopped by the PRHYLI booth and spoke to Medina, Quisqueya Witbeck from East Greenbush Central School District, and Ruth Nova de los Santos, a former PRHYLI student who now works for the Capital District Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (RBERN).
“I knew Angelo Del Toro very well, and I was honored to have his seat,” said Tonko. “I share Angelo’s sense of being and legacy – to empower our nation’s young people through education.”
As stated in a letter to the Capital District RBERN, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, chair of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, said advocating for this cause teaches students how to become politically and socially involved in their communities.
Human trafficking is a social issue that not only affects our neighboring countries, but is also a domestic issue, he added.
“There is no place for slavery in the 21st Century and we must end this. I am proud of our students for choosing this cause and taking a stand against it,” said Ortiz. “As you may know, there are more slaves today than at any other time in history and according to the U.S. Department of State, there are at least one million new victims of human trafficking a year.”
Former PRHYLI delegates also taking time to raise awareness on this issue include: Jonathan Hernandez, Shaker High School, 2003; Christian Salas, Shaker High School, 2004; Justin Medina, Bethlehem High School, 2006; Lorenzo Hernandez, Shenendehowa High School, 2006; and Quisqueya Witbeck, Columbia High School, 2012.
PRHYLI students support the vision of Love 146, an international organization whose vision is “the abolition of child sex slavery and exploitation. Nothing less.”
To learn more about human trafficking and how it affects people around the world, visit www.love146.org.