James Kofi Annan, a partner of Grand Valley State University through his leadership at the Challenging Heights organization in Ghana, has been awarded the 2013 World’s Children’s Prize by the queen of Sweden.
Annan, a former child slave, has helped Grand Valley students take part in a service learning trip to Ghana for several years. Students have traveled to Ghana to work with children freed from slavery in Ghanain fishing camps, and organized to have tons of medical supplies and equipment shipped to remote villages in the area. Challenging Heights serves as one of the largest anti-trafficking organizations in West Africa. Students taking part in the service learning trip spend seven weeks in Ghana, including two weeks of classroom time in Accra at the University of Ghana and five weeks in Winneba working at Challenging Heights. During the part of their time at Challenging Heights, students assist the organization by engaging in community service projects and observe the holistic approach to rescuing children from slavery.
Annan has worked to free child slaves for years, and has traveled to Michigan to share his story with students at Grand Valley. He is an internationally recognized leader against slavery. He was the recipient of the Free the Slaves Frederick Douglass Award, the Young Innovator for Social Justice Award, and has spoken about child slavery at a TEDx conference and on CNN.