DUBAI // A campaign to highlight the plight of the 27 million people trafficked each year needs more people to become involved.
Katie Pattison-Hart, a Dubai athlete, is eight months into her project to challenge people around the world to exercise in an attempt to bring attention to a worldwide problem. Her exercise-based goal is to get participants to make 27 million repetitions, by performing a certain action each month.
So far, her followers have reached 13.4 million repetitions and by May she hopes to reach her goal.
"We need more people and more awareness," she said.
Each month an exercise is chosen and posted on the project's Facebook page, which has 402 followers, and 400 Twitter followers. Participants reply with the number of repetitions they complete.
"It's about pushing it to the extreme to get attention," she said.
In May, there was a 400-metre relay and each lap was counted as one repetition. The participants ran 1,033,900 metres.
"We started really early and 30 people turned up the heat in the soaring temperatures outdoors," Ms Pattison-Hart said. "As the day went on, people began to fade but started to call around to their friends and family to come down and take the baton on."
Last month, each metre run was added to the tally and the project added 3.8 million metres.
"But we are behind target and need to get it up again," she said.
Ms Pattison-Hart was part of a six-woman team that rowed across the Atlantic in January last year as part of the same campaign to raise awareness.
That initiative, Row For Freedom, is related to the 27 Million Project.
The challenge this month is double-under skips on a skipping rope. The Facebook page is populated by enthusiastic UAE residents adding their scores.
"A frustrating, and painful, 240 DUs [double unders] pre-wod [pre-workout of the day] tonight!" wrote Claire Noble on the page. Below it, Jessie Akister said that she had done 1,500.
In June, pounds lifted was the challenge, adding 3,856,662 repetitions. The challenge for July was stair climbing: 250,000 steps were climbed.
In the relentless August heat, participants took to the rowing machine, racking up 1,659,145 metres.
They kept indoors for September's challenge of box jumps; each inch per jump was added up.
"Some were finding walls to jump up on," she said. Others continued adding to the total while on holiday during the summer.
Alissar Elbaba, a 34-year-old Australian, said skipping rope was not her strongest exercise but she was getting into it. Ms Elbaba, who works in sales for a commercial diving outfit, said she started a fitness regime as part of her New Year's resolutions last year. The 27 Million Project fitted right in with her plan.
"Doing the 27 Million Project is the reward," she said. "You see all of the slave labour going on all over the world and the human trafficking is horrific, but it is something you don't think of. By highlighting it to us through skipping, metres run or box jumps jumped is a good way. It's a good cause."
The exercises put forward each month were not her favourites.
"I hate skipping but I've grown to like every one. We've done all types of techniques over the time but as it's a weakness for me at the same time it's something I could improve on. It's all about the awareness and something we could all learn from," she said.
Steve Cornish, a 32-year-old creative director from the UK, said it was a great cause to get involved in and got him doing exercises he knew were good for him, but did not enjoy.
"It's a goal of something new, like running. A lot of people who don't run too much had to," he said.
There are plans to continue the campaign until the 27 million mark is reached.
"We are not going to stop until we do it," Mr Cornish said. "There are so many people committed to it and some go home to the US or the UK and get their gyms involved who send in the numbers and that's what it's about."
Those who want to contribute to the cause can make donations to Row for Freedom, at rowforfreedom.com.