Sleeping Out to Fight Homelessness
The return of Wenona's Amnesty Sleepout was an eye-opening experience for everyone involved.
Our Amnesty International Club leaders drove the event to spread awareness about how difficult life can be without a roof over your head. It attracted 64 students and four staff to bed down in the Big Gym. So far they have raised more than $2,750 for the cause.
The target of their fundraising is Taldumande Youth Services, which supports vulnerable and homeless children and young people aged 12 to 24 years, and their families. On any given night, Taldumande has 65 children and young people in residence.
The Wenona students received a presentation from a coordinator at Taldumande, Nikki Thomas, who spoke about the high demand for their services and the many young people they have to turn away each year, especially in times of high demand such as COVID. "Youth homelessness is often less visible than adult homelessness," she explained, "because young people will often couch surf until alternative beds are available." Nikki shared that the causes are factors such as family breakdown, domestic violence, or substance abuse, and while the Taldumande House team works with the entire family to try and reconcile them, this is not always possible or appropriate.
Following the presentation, the students played social justice simulation games and shared a soup kitchen-style meal. Come bedtime, they slept on pieces of cardboard for a first-hand experience of the discomfort of living without permanent shelter.
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