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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Central Florida Presbytery

App Helps Students Identify Red Flags and False Leads of Traffickers


Jill Bolander Cohen, founder and executive director of the Lifeboat Project

Jill Bolander Cohen, founder and executive director of the Lifeboat Project

A new anime-style gaming app for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, has an extraordinary mission: to keep children and young adults, ages 11 to 14, from becoming victims of human traffickers.

After two years in development, the ACT (Awareness Combats Trafficking) app is now available for free download through the iOS app store, Google Play and Lifeboat-ACT.com.

The ACT app is the brainchild of lifelong Presbyterian Jill Bolander Cohen, founder and executive director of the Lifeboat Project, a Central Florida nonprofit that works to fight human trafficking. The app, which is available in English and Spanish, is designed to educate junior high and high school students about the dangerous, ever-changing schemes of traffickers.

“Based on calls to the National Trafficking Hotline, Florida ranks third in the nation for trafficking, and my church sits about two minutes from one of the most heavily trafficked parts of our state,” Cohen says.

The Lifeboat Project received support from the U.S. Department of Defense to create the main framework, and philanthropists stepped forward to fund development of the gaming app through Orlando-based Engineering and Computer Simulation (ECS). It has been well received by educators and students who took part in beta testing. The app has already won two silver awards in the categories of education and gaming, presented by Horizon Interactive Awards.

“We’re so excited about the rollout of this app,” Cohen says. “Even in its early stages it is gaining the attention of legislators and educators across Florida and around the country.”

Cohen says that representatives from the Lifeboat Project and ECS have had meetings with several agencies in Washington, D.C., including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime and the Department of Education. “All agencies felt the ACT app is one of the best tools in educating our children about human trafficking,” she says.

The developers worked to strike a balance that isn’t “too broad” or “too scary,” but one in which the students learn from the characters’ stories to be alert and aware at all times.

“Our hope for the app is not only to bring prevention and awareness, but to leverage businesses using the app to help fund long-term housing and care for survivors,” Cohen says.

“As traffickers change their tactics,” she says, “we hope to stay 10 steps ahead of them by developing new scenes to educate our young.”

Tammy Warren, Communications Associate, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us join in prayer for:

Presbytery Staff:

Rev. Dr. Daniel Williams, Executive Presbyter and Stated Clerk
Karen Daniel, Office and Finance Manager
Jody Mask, Administrative Assistant
Cheryl Carson, Leadership/Resource/Youth Coordinator
Barbara Sayles, Hunger Action Enabler
Rev. Darice K. W. Dawson, College Ministries Coordinator

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Michele Blum, PPC
Margaret Boone, PMA

Let us pray

Loving God, you created us for life together, yet children and young adults are trafficked for profit and “pleasure.” Help us create life-giving patterns of community and commerce. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who came that we might have life in all its fullness. Amen.

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