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Island Pacific School students take learning about youth homelessness to the next level

This past February, Grade 8 & 9 students from Island Pacific School on Bowen Island took learning to the next level. They opened their hearts and minds to the devastating world of youth homelessness by researching pathways that lead youth to the streets. They also explored downtown Vancouver to gain a better understanding of services available to their peers, volunteered at Covenant House Vancouver, and hosted their own Sleep Out: Student Edition.  

Sleep Out: Student Edition is a fundraising experience that schools across the Lower Mainland have been hosting throughout the school year. Student’s learn about youth homelessness, sleep out in solidarity for homeless youth and raise funds to help youth at Covenant House Vancouver achieve lasting independence.

Teachers Jennifer Henrichsen and Pam Matthews inspired their students to get the most out of their Sleep Out by organizing a walk around downtown that included dinner on a $2 budget, and a volunteer shift at Covenant House before heading back to IPS to sleep outside.

One student, Lauren, shares: "Our society makes this scary idea around homelessness…I mean for most of my life I have had this exact idea and fear in my head. But yesterday made a huge change in my outlook on why people are on the street. The one part of yesterday that truly resonated with me was walking in East Hastings. It made me realize the extent of the homelessness problem and made me feel that those people deserved so much more."

IPS students were only allowed to bring a sleeping bag and matt to sleep outside with. No pillow. No extra blankets. No snacks. They huddled together trying to keep warm throughout the drizzly night.

"We all suffered the cold, damp, uncomfortable conditions, but the most important difference that I saw was that we were together. On the street there rarely are people huddled all around you that care and will look out for you. We were outside as a team, but youth on the street are all alone," explains Aria.

In only two weeks, this passionate group of students, teachers and their families raised $4,675 to provide 17 youth in Covenant House’s Rights of Passage Program with supportive transitional housing so they too will be prepared for a healthy, happy, independent future out of poverty and off the streets.

Our most sincere thanks goes out to the IPS community for sharing their passion for life with our deserving young people.

Student Sleep Out Island Pacific School 

Off My Back – A social enterprise in support of Covenant House

Off My Back was founded by five Royal Roads University students with the idea that small acts will compound to big change. Off My Back’s mission is to raise awareness of child poverty in Canada.

OMB is a social enterprise that has teamed up with Covenant House Vancouver and Covenant House Toronto. Every shirt sold puts one on the back of a homeless youth. Its fashion with a purpose and 100% of the profits are donated.

To learn more or to buy a shirt click here

Off My Back shirt image 

“One Guitar One Voice” a performance in support of Covenant House

Last year, Barry celebrated 45 years of songwriting with an intimate evening of songs and stories from along the way. This year, Barry is celebrating the present... with a selection of his most recent musical ventures, all written since turning 60. 

Hear Barry's latest collection of songs live at The Roundhouse, Friday, March 6. Tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased here. All the proceeds from this special evening and performance will go to Covenant House Vancouver.

To learn more about Barry Greenfield and show click here

Barry Greenfield


Youth turn to us for help big & small...even for cooking advice!

Ned used to stay at Covenant House a lot, coming in and out of our Crisis  Program, building relationships, and trying his best to do well. He parted with us eventually to go to Saskatchewan for work, but although he was thousands of kilometers away, he stayed close and connected, relying on his supports here. Ned called and checked in with all of us, telling us how he was doing, and asking how things were on our end.

One evening as I was covering the front desk, the phone rang and Ned’s familiar voice brought a smile to my face. He was kind, as usual, and it was nice hearing from him, but this time his little check-in wasn’t so cheerful – he broke two fingers and was out of work for now. Ned told me he just taped his fingers together, and then laughed when I urged him to go to the hospital. He reminded me he doesn’t “do doctors” but assured me he’s going to be alright and asked me not to worry about him. He said he’s staying with his friends for now, but they’ve left for a few days, and he doesn’t have any money for food. He has this chicken though, he said.

Then he paused. I couldn’t understand why he was telling me about this chicken, until he finally summoned up the courage to continue: “I’m very sorry, but I just don’t have anyone else… Can you please tell me how to cook a chicken?” It’s a feeling like no other when we know that our youth can turn to us with whatever they are facing in their lives – big and small. Sometimes it’s tough, emotional things, and sometimes it’s just… chicken. So, we talked about that. Ned asked about the easiest way to cook it, about how to tell when it’s done, how to make it taste good and what kind of easy sides he can make for it. “Thank you” – he heartily said in the end, and that was one of the sweetest thanks I’ve ever heard.

picture of cooked chicken


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