- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2007

The White House has given its backing to the latest project to raise awareness about modern-day slavery.

“The slave trade is sadly still a part of our society,” said Jay Hein, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Mr. Hein last week endorsed “The Better Hour” project, which aims to highlight modern issues of human trafficking 200 years after the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1807.

William Wilberforce, the British abolitionist whose life and work to end the slave trade was the subject of the recently released movie “Amazing Grace,” inspired the project.

“This is about the unfinished business of slavery; there is so much more work to do,” said Chuck Stetson, chairman of the Wilberforce Project. “There are 27 million people still in slavery around the world today.”

Mr. Hein added, “The proportion of slaves is greater than it was in Wilberforce’s day.”

The Wilberforce Project is holding a competition for high school students with a first prize of $10,000 for the best project to improve the world around them.

Zach Hunter, 15, student spokesman for “The Better Hour,” started campaigning against modern-day slavery when he was 12. His project, “Loose Change to Loosen the Chains,” encourages high school students to search their homes for loose change to donate to projects to end slavery. Students at more than 30 high schools across the nation are participating. “I think ‘The Better Hour’ will get a lot more teenagers excited about making it a better world by starting their own projects,” he said.

The competition, open to all high school students in the United States, is sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation with a total of $50,000 in prize money. Awards will be presented in Congress in May 2008. To enter, visit www.thebetterhour.com. The closing date for entries is March 1.

“The abolition of the slave trade was a turning point in history,” Mr. Stetson said. “We need to make sure the younger generation knows about it.”

A Wilberforce Project documentary about the life and work of Wilberforce will be broadcast on national television in October.

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