Arizona Girl Scout Receives National Recognition

Posted: Nov 16, 2011

It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 teenage victims of human sex trafficking in the United States at any given time. Arizona in particular has been identified as a hotbed for this “modern day slavery,” and public officials have made fighting this disturbing problem a priority.

While human trafficking can involve prostitution, its scope is much wider: predators lure individuals away from their homes and families, kidnap them and sell them as prostitutes, live-in nannies and more. Fortunately, law enforcement and government officials are not the only ones engaged in the battle against human trafficking. A local Girl Scout is helping to lead the way in the fight against human trafficking.

In 2009, Alexis La Benz received her Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can receive, from the Girl Scouts—Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC) for her efforts to educate the public, including potential victims, about the dangers of human trafficking. Part of Alexis’ work included creation of a website, www.teensontrafficking.org. She expanded her efforts by working with a small group of fellow Girls Scouts who together are known as the GSGEMS.

The “GS GEMS” (Girls Educating, Empowering and Mentoring with Support), together, are devoted to preventing human trafficking through community awareness and outreach. For her pioneering work and continued efforts, Alexis was selected by the Girl Scouts of the USA as a 2011 National Young Woman of Distinction. She presented her project at the 2011 Girl Scout National Convention last week.

“It is such an honor to receive this recognition,” said Alexis. “I am very passionate about spreading awareness and preventing human trafficking and hope to make a difference in the lives I touch."
“Alexis epitomizes what it means to be a Girl Scout. She is a young woman of confidence and character, and does all she can to make our world a better place,” said GSACPC CEO Tamara Woodbury. “We have the utmost respect and pride for Alexis as she receives this amazing honor.”

For more information about GS GEMS and our other JUST US Programs, click here.