The commercial sexual exploitation of girls doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are 100,000 to 300,000 children at risk of commercial sexual exploitation each year in the United States. In New York City alone there are an estimated 2,200 children victimized annually.*
Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) is the only organization in New York State specifically designed to serve girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. Founded in 1998 by Rachel Lloyd, a young woman who had been sexually exploited as a teenager. Her mission is to create a world where girls are no longer viewed as property, as sexual objects, or less valuable than boys - a world where girls are valued, empowered and provided with the critical educational and economic opportunities they need in order to thrive.
Since it’s inception, GEMS has helped hundreds of young women and girls, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and to develop to their full potential. In 2016, 83% of GEMS members increased their safety by becoming or staying free from CSE. Over 143 girls and young women continued to persevere in advancing their education through GEMS' Educational Initiative.
When Walnut Health was first introduced to GEMS in the fall of 2016, we knew we wanted to support the organization and girls by helping them learn to improve their health and confidence. As of July 2017, we now offer "Empowering Self-Care", a weekly class for young women and girls in partnership with GEMS. The girls learn valuable skills that will not only help them improve their long-term health but their relationships with themselves and others. The class takes a holistic approach to facilitating health education, framing ideas about exercise and nutrition in a context that emphasizes the importance of mental health and achieving work, life, and spiritual balance.
We are so excited to bring the "Empowering Self-Care" program to GEMS! With your ongoing support, we hope to continue the partnership indefinitely. Please consider donating to help us improve the lives of young women: https://www.crowdrise.com/nyc-marathon-2017-for-gems-pace-for-a-purpose/fundraiser/melissaelder.
*Estes & Weiner, 2001, OCFS 2007 Prevalence Study