12 Connecticut Schools Raise Awareness of Homelessness
HARTFORD – The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, in partnership with the CT Department of Education, awarded small grants to twelve high schools and student groups to raise awareness and engage students and their schools in helping young people experiencing a housing crisis. This took place during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness (HHA) week which ran from November 10-18.
The twelve schools and student groups participated by organizing a variety of projects such as hosting a sleep out, creating a care closet, and organizing food, hygiene, and clothing drives. Some of the projects ran during HHA week, while other projects will continue through the New Year.
“This is important to me because teens need to know their educational rights when they are homeless; they can get help with food, school, and even uniforms,” says Malea Remele, a Junior Culinary Arts student at Harvard H. Ellis Technical High School who participated in delivering classroom lessons. The Ellis Tech Community Awareness Group began their projects during HHA week using the grant to fund a toiletry and paper towel drive, host a Cardboard City demonstrating the realities of homelessness, and provided lectures on hunger and homelessness in the community. Their projects will continue as they hold a demonstration at the Parent Conference Night, culinary students will make instant soup packages to be given to the local No Freeze Shelter, and projects will conclude with the annual East of the River Food Drive in early February.
The Teen Leadership Institute at Middletown High School also participated by hosting a “SleepOut America” night and provided coffee, donuts, and warming attire to local individuals who are currently experiencing homelessness. “This project taught the youth that homelessness can happen to anyone. A lot of the people we saw are people that once had it all together. Some of them were former students of mine and friends of theirs. The people were extremely appreciative and thanked us all for our work asking if it were something we could do more often, despite having a soup kitchen in the area. It was nice for them to see young people helping them,” said a staff member from the Institute.
Schools who participated in HHA projects include Ellis Tech Community Awareness Group, Teen Leadership Institute at Middletown High School, John Wallace Community Club, Torrington High School, Old Saybrook Youth Action Council, Slade Middle School National Junior Honor Society, Killingly High School, The Woodstock Academy FRESH, New Britain High School, Eli Whitney Technical High School, and Berlin High School.
Although the deadline for HHA week grants have passed, there are still many ways raise awareness and address homelessness. School faculty, staff, and students can utilize “Ending Youth Homelessness: A Toolkit for Connecticut Schools” available at ctyouthhelp.org which was designed to help schools end youth homelessness. Schools and individuals can also participate in the upcoming Youth Outreach and Count; an annual count of homeless youth in Connecticut held January 23-29, 2019. To learn more and register to volunteer visit www.cceh.org/youth-count.