The A21 Campaign’s Walk for Freedom in The Woodlands will be one of hundreds of events held by A21 around the world Oct. 19 featuring an organized walk against slavery.

The local organizers of the free awareness and fundraising event, which kicks off in Northshore Park, said they hope the walk can provide context and education for people who may not know the scope of modern slavery. According to A21—which stands for the abolition of human trafficking in the 21st century—modern slavery is a $150 billion criminal industry involving millions of victims globally, with a large footprint in the Greater Houston area. Funds raised for the October walk benefit A21’s global campaign and trafficking victim assistance programs.

“There’s a lot of people in The Woodlands who think that human trafficking is not a problem in The Woodlands when it is. Certainly in Montgomery County, it is,” said Diane Ziman, one of the local walk hosts.

The Woodlands event will feature other trafficking-focused organizations and live music in addition to the 2-mile walk. The Woodlands walk host Bonnie Thiessen said the program is family-friendly and open to community members of all ages.

“When we bring people to this event, it is a great way for families to start conversations with their kids, because that’s part of the prevention, too,” Thiessen said.

The 2018 event in The Woodlands attracted more than 100 people to walk through the Town Center, and Thiessen and Ziman set a goal of 1,000 attendees this year. They said that figure, around 1% of The Woodlands population, represents the approximately 1% of trafficking victims who are ever rescued.

“This is an ugly subject … and brushing it under the carpet is not going to help it, so face your fears, stand up and be counted,” Ziman said.

A21 Walk for Freedom
Northshore Park, 2505 Lake Woodlands Drive, The Woodlands
Oct. 19, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.