Student hopes to draw attention to human sex trafficking

One dress for 30 days

Staff writer

Jess Harvey, a senior at Goessel High School normally wears jeans and T-shirts, sweats, or basketball shoes, but for the month of March, she has donned a simple black and white dress. She plans to wear the dress for the entire month hoping to draw attention to human sex trafficking, the topic of her school I-search project.

“It’s getting a lot of attention,” she said. “People who know me notice right away. Everybody reacts about the same way: ‘What? You are wearing the same dress every day for a month?’”

Harvey said she uses the dress topic to visit with people about human trafficking in the United States.

“When I started looking into this, I was shocked to learn that Wichita is one of the top cities in the U.S. that has this problem,” she said. “Human trafficking, especially when humans sell other humans for sex, is a horrible problem and no one wants to talk about it. It’s very uncomfortable, but it is going on right here, in the state of Kansas.”

Harvey, who has an interest in psychology and sociology and hopes to pursue education in that direction in college next year, said she heard about the “One dress for 30 days” project from her friend Brittny Czarnowsky.

“We are actually doing this together,” Harvey said. “She is a student at Barkley College near Havilland, and she is wearing a dress for the month of March like I am. We keep in touch every day by texting and compare our experiences and what people are saying.”

Harvey said Czarnowsky even lent her the dress she chose to wear for the month.

“I am just not much of a dress wearer usually,” she said. “I didn’t even really have anything that would work. I’ve had to learn how to sit properly and walk differently, and sometimes it’s cold, but this has been a good experience so far.”

In addition to coping with the busy schedule of a high school senior, Harvey has to work her dress-wearing project around her job at Bethesda Home, where she works in the kitchen and the coffee shop.

“I have to wear pants for my uniform at work, so that is one time I don’t wear the dress,” she said. “Otherwise I wear it every day, all day, except for sleeping, showering, and when I have to wash it, of course.”

She said several friends were considering joining in her awareness project, including her sister who was upset she did not tell her from the start.

“My sister wants to do it at her college, and some of my friends are thinking about it,” Harvey said. “But they don’t want to wear a dress. They are trying to think of some other way to draw attention and start conversations about the problem.”

Though wearing a dress everyday was a radical change for Harvey, she said the best part was not having to decide what to wear every day to school.

“Really it has simplified my life a lot,” she said. “I have extra time in the morning to sleep because I always know what I am going to wear when I get up in the morning.”

Harvey keeps daily notes about her conversations with people on human sex trafficking. She plans to use the information in her research paper, which is due before graduation in May. She said she would likely go back to her usual attire of jeans, shorts, and sweats, when the month of March ends.

“At the end of each day, I just can’t wait to get back into my sweats,” she said. “This is just a bit abnormal for me.”

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