Alexis La Benz of Chandler, Arizona has campaigned against the forced prostitution of children for the past four years, beginning at age 14. Her fight has mainly been orchestrated through informational and inspirational presentations within the ranks of Girl Scouts, teen groups and churches, both at the local and national level. She is now a high school senior who will be starting college in the fall, but the passion for making a difference for the sex trafficked children has not diminished.
She is part of a group called GS GEMS, Girl Scout Girls Empowering and Mentoring with Support, which will continue to raise awareness within the community about the issue. Alexis will transition at some point from a Scout to a troop leader, where her passion and influence can continue to grow.
View slideshow: Being a voice for the voiceless: A teen speaks out for sex trafficked teens.
Through this experience that married Girl Scouting and the championship of a cause, many doors have opened up for Alexis La Benz.
- She has become good friends with some survivors and collaborated with other Girl
- A pilot program with GSUSA teamed the GEMS members with Girl Guides in Honduras around the issue of sex trafficking. This broadened the perspective of both sets of scouts to see how the problem manifests and is handled in each country. The US girls began making and selling black and white awareness bracelets as their point of entrée for discussion, and the Hondurans prepared and served meals for the same purpose.
- Alexis was named one of 10 National Young Women of Distinction, the highest award in Girl Scouting by GSUSA
- She was asked to address 15,000 Girl Scouts and tell about her Gold Award project at the 2011 National GSUSA Conference where she got to meet the GSUSA president, Anna Maria Chavez.
- She has received several scholarships and will be participating in Arizona State
University’s Barrett Honors College in the fall of 2012.
- As part of the 100th year celebration of Girl Scouting, Alexis took part in a ceremony at the Arizona State Capitol in which Governor Jan Brewer and eight other state legislators were given honorary Girl Scout status.
- Alexis and her fellow GS GEMS, created a training video that other troops around the country can use to develop their own GS GEMS programs.
- In 2010, she received the GS World Leadership Award
- She was a Girl Advisor on the Arizona Girl Scouts Board of Directors for 2010-2012
- Alexis still continues to do speaking engagements and incorporates her website, www.teensontrafficking.org, into her presentations.
What does all this involvement in the sordid world of sex trafficking mean for Alexis?
“It has had a huge impact on my life. It helps the greater good and helps me know about myself, the kind of leader I am. Even though there are really awful things in the world, you don’t have to sit idly by. You can put your foot down and say, ‘This has to be stopped!’ Even though it is a big bad world, we can help each other.”
Alexis will be majoring in Business Communication with a minor in Social Entrepreneurship (non-profit management). Her eventual goal is to be the CEO of GSUSA. In the meantime, she will continue to be a warrior in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation of children and will recruit others to stand with her in the battle