By Dylan Bova, MVA Class of 2027

This past January, during Human Trafficking Awareness Month, students from Montverde Academy came together to raise awareness and support victims of human trafficking. The project was coordinated by Montverde Academy Theatre Conservatory student and founder of Project Red Light, Dylan Bova.

Dylan created Project Red Light as a middle-schooler to help fight human trafficking in Central Florida through awareness, survivor support projects, and prevention efforts. “Florida is third in the nation for most human trafficking cases, and Orlando is third in the nation for the highest human trafficking crime rate – I don’t think most people recognize how pervasive this problem is even right here in our backyards,” Dylan explained.

Dylan coordinated a collaboration between Project Red Light and the Student Officers of Montverde Theatre Conservatory Troupe 3977 to support survivors. Together, both groups held a Human Trafficking Survivor Support Drive from January 11-19. 

“I learned about the Lifeboat Project, spoke to the founder, and knew this was how we should help,” recalled Dylan.

The Lifeboat Project, founded by Jill Cohen, is a local, Central-Florida-based nonprofit organization that provides transitional housing for survivors, as well as other survivor support services.

The theatre students created a list of supplies to help stock up the transitional housing, shared this with theatergoers through their social media and mailing lists, and collected supplies on campus. Theatre patrons, members of the Arts Alliance, and Montverde Academy families were asked to donate basic hygiene and household items, from toilet paper to pots and pans, for the survivor housing facilities. MVA senior and theatre troupe President Lily Downs said, “Donating hygiene, cosmetic, household, and even creative products to [survivors] shows that even the smallest act of kindness can brighten someone’s day and bring hope to those in need.”

Not only did students collect abundant supplies, but “we were blessed with cash donations from local families and the Westgate Foundation,” added Dylan, “The response from our Montverde Academy theatre family was humbling.” By the end of the supply drive, donations of goods and cash totaling a little over $5,000 were collected.

On Wednesday, January 31, representatives from the Lifeboat Project, including founder Jill Cohen and assistant Izabella Smith, visited the Montverde Academy campus to meet the students and collect donations. They were overjoyed by the outcome of the drive and were so grateful for each donation received. “[These teens’] efforts will make a great impact in the lives of our survivors here,” said Cohen.

“It is important that we continue coming up with ways to collaborate within our community and keep bringing this issue to the forefront of conversations here in our Central Florida community and beyond,” said Dylan.

On April 16, together with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Project Red Light will be hosting their second-annual self-defense class on the Montverde Academy campus. The Lifeboat Project also has many new ventures in the works, including a new educational game application called “ACT!” to help players identify signs of human trafficking. “ACT!” is free to download on both Google Play and the App Store.

To learn more about future events or how you can support these missions, visit and the

Previous articleClermont Woman’s Club Receives A BIG Thank You From New Beginnings
Next articleThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Partners With Well of Hope Food Bank To Help Clermont Families Facing Food Insecurities