It’s grey, soggy, and chilly in Toronto – an ideal day to experience a fraction of what a young person experiencing homelessness might go through. Today is Eva’s annual Walk for Homeless Youth (#WHY17), a 500-student strong event that aims to raise awareness about youth homelessness and raise funds for safe shelter, nutritious food, and around-the-clock support for homeless youth at Eva’s.
This year, we’re excited to have Minister of Housing Chris Ballard and Ontario Advocate for Children and Youth Irwin Elman join us. Also this year, we’re focusing on raising awareness about the need for better mental health supports for youth experiencing homelessness. The latest Canadian national survey on youth homelessness found that 85.4% of homeless youth report high mental health distress and 42% report at least one suicide attempt.
Hudson College is one of several school partners participating in #WHY17. Rose Bastien, Vice Principal and Head of Curriculum, notes that the walk provides a great opportunity for grade 6 to 8 students in Hudson’s middle school program to get involved in their communities. “It’s really important we look at social justice issues because it’s part of our curriculum,” she explains. “Community involvement prepares middle school students for high school and the Walk is an opportunity to make these issues real.” Rose also notes that #WHY17 is an opportunity for students to realize their connection to other participating schools. “Change isn’t just about your own school,” she says. “It’s about working with a wider community of students in the different circles in our lives—our schools, communities, and city.”
Critically, Rose notes that the Walk can help challenge common misconceptions about homelessness. “There’s a perception that homelessness is the result of some kind of personal failure. But I want students to get a chance to see how social marginalization plays into it, and that homelessness can affect anyone too.”
Please support #WHY17 with your donation today! Funds raised will go to provide shelter, food, and support for 123 young people who stay at Eva’s every night.
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