Rossland youth will once again be sleeping on the street to raise money and awareness for homelessness.
Last year, youth from the Rossland Me to We group camped out in Harry Lafevre Square to raise awareness about homelessness in the area and money for Cicada Place in Nelson, and this year youth from the Rossland Youth Service (RYS) Group — a group of socially conscious youth who are committed to making a difference in the world — are doing the same, but are raising money for the Getting to Home Project in Trail, which assists people who are homeless or at significant risk of homelessness to secure suitable housing.
Youth from the RYS group will camp out in the square overnight on Friday from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next morning.
“They will have poster boards with facts about homelessness and will invite passersby to engage with them about this issue,” Mike Kent, coordinator for the Rossland Youth Action Network, explained in an email. “Their goal is not to come away thinking they know what it might be like to be homeless — they understand that this experience in no way reflects what it is like to be truly without a place to stay. They hope to have the opportunity to raise awareness, break stereotypes and challenge misconceptions about homelessness.”
“I think this is a really cool and unique experience to not only raise awareness about homelessness and homelessness in the Rossland/Kootenay area, but raise funds to help those who are homeless. There are many homeless people in the area that go unnoticed, and I believe this is a good way to help them get back on their feet,” said Natasha Robine, one of the youth in the group. “I do not think I will know what it is like to be homeless after this experience, however, I hope to get a glimpse at how hard it is to be homeless.”
The RYS Group supports local and international organizations by promoting awareness and fundraising for their causes. Asked why supporting a cause that helps the homeless was important to them, youth from the group indicated they felt the issue needed more attention in the Kootenays.
“Homelessness in the Kootenays isn’t always as noticeable as in bigger centres, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It is important that our communities realize this and do what we can to help,” said Hannah Klemmensen.
“To me it is important that we do not turn a blind eye towards homeless in our communities,” said Connor Dunham. “It is a topic that some people might not think [about] as often as others because they might not see it [in] their day-to-day lives, however it could affect those whom you least expect.”
“I decided to join the Winter Camp Out because it is important to actually see these people,” said Rosie Cameron. “I know it can be hard to face this reality but the sooner we do, the sooner we as a community can fix it. If my life hadn’t gone the way it had perhaps it would [be] me on the streets watching everyone pass me by.”
Visit rosslandyouthservice.yodel.org/rossland-youth-service-group to support the Rossland Youth Service Group’s efforts.