It is often assumed that the world has not seen slavery since African slavery was abolished. Yet in today’s world, 2 million boys and girls are enslaved in the child sex industry—raped for pay, sold into prostitution, trafficked across borders, and bought as sexual souvenirs by tourists. The average age of these children is 13, however, there have been reports of children as young as 5…months. I was awakened to this fact when I was 16. Flipping through a book for a project in my grade 10 Civics class, I read about the plight of children in Patpong, Thailand who are forced to dance on stage for customers and service more than 26 of them a night. I was horrified by this, and I contrasted my life with the lives of these children-- the differences were astounding. “How could this happen? All children should be able to enjoy their right to a childhood!” , I thought. I decided that I was not going to turn a blind eye, rather, I was going to take action. My first step was to educate myself. I took multiple trips to the library, spent hours on the internet, and called up organizations working in the field—all in an effort to be knowledgeable to speak out. After a while, I felt a yearning to meet these children. I wanted to hear their stories of exploitation and abuse, and ask them how youth could help. I was 17 when I decided to take 3.5 months off from school and travel to Sri Lanka to investigate the issue of child exploitation. I met with child labourers, soldiers, and prostitutes and in order to obtain an insider’s look into the child sex trade, I decided to act as the decoy, a 15 year-old child prostitute in an undercover STING operation in collaboration with the National Child Protection Authority. The operation was successful, and a 40+ man, who was married with two children (ages 5 and 7) and the Assistant General Manager of the Finance Department of a Multinational Corporation was arrested. I raised my concerns with the Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka on Social Infrastructure, who I managed to convert from a cynic to a believer and supporter of youth as changemakers. My experiences in Sri Lanka led me to begin a unique initiative that mobilized Air Canada to partner with youth by screening youth-produced inflight videos warning against child sex tourism. This initiative grew to involve hundreds of children and youth in Canada, but in our research, we made a discovery—an organization that was powered by youth dedicated to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children was non-existent. I gathered a group of friends, and in an effort to fill this void, OneChild was born. Today, OneChild is the only organization of its kind dedicated to ending the global sex trade in children. With its “by youth, for youth” approach, OneChild is an advocate for the world’s most exploited children, using youth empowerment as a tool to raise awareness and support child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. OneChild works to :1.Advance the rights of children and promote networks of support child victims;2. Raise awareness and provide information3. Develop youth programs and educational materials4. Investigate the causes and factors contributing to the commercial sexual exploitation of children Although new, OneChild has made strides in turning the tables on the global sex trade as a new, powerful, and distinct voice in this monumental struggle to protect children. OneChild was recently honoured with the 2006 World of Children Founder's Award. To learn more, visit www.one-child.ca OneChild’s latest project: Build-a –Rehab Centre! A new partnership between OneChild and the People’s Recovery Empowerment Development and Assistance Foundation (PREDA) has been formed. OneChild is working to raise the funds for the construction of a new rehabilitation centre for sexually exploited girls in the Philippines. The rehabilitation centre will provide shelter, three meals per day, a therapeutic recovery program that includes emotional expression therapy, family therapy counseling, and formal and non-formal education. Such a program is based on affirmation, empowerment, and healing, and develops the child’s self-esteem.