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Island Pacific School students fundraise $4,635 for Covenant House!

On February 15th a group of grade 9 students at Island Pacific School braved the cold sleeping outside overnight – the culmination of their work participating in Sleep Out: Student Edition. Island Pacific School students were able to raise $4,635 for Covenant House Vancouver. These young people demonstrated profound and unwavering support of peers less fortunate than themselves; Covenant House is grateful to the students, staff and parents for their hard work and dedication to the youth seeking out Covenant House’s help every day. 

The students spent the afternoon volunteering at Covenant House then tried to 'walk a mile' in the shoes of a street kid. The students walked around the Downtown Eastside in the pouring rain, found dinner for a twoonie and then slept on the gravel outside of a shed on school property. Although they were uncomfortable, wet and hungry and the teachers didn't hear one complaint. What they did hear were insightful and empathetic comments and thank you's for the experience. The teens were grateful to have a pancake breakfast the next morning before attending a full day of classes.

Below are some reflections that the kids wrote the morning after sleeping out. Their words will show you that this experience was valuable in creating perspective and appreciation:

Firstly it made me realize how lucky I am to have the things that I do (clothing, shelter, food, LOVE) Secondly, I am more aware of what Covenant House does and how their actions genuinely change lives of youth on the street. They give the youth the opportunity to “restart their lives” in a way, giving them the tools they need to give them better lives….This was a really eye opening experience that I’ll never forget. Thank you for letting me go through this.

I never thought there was much youth homelessness, once I heard the statistics (about 700 kids on any night in Vancouver) I was like.. .woah.. I REALLY need to do this Sleep Out”.

Last night’s Sleep Out was uncomfortable and cold. Luckily I had my friends around. But what if I didn’t have my friends? I couldn’t imagine how it would feel to be uncomfortable, cold and ALONE. Night after night.

What I had seen before was from the outside looking in - without truly understanding why or how. I came to realize the why and how throughout this experience and although we did not have to deal with the truly awful conditions that many street youth do I feel like I did gain some perspective into aspects of their life.

Thank you again to the Island Pacific School students for your dedication to homeless youth in your community!

For more information on Sleep Out: Student Edition please visit the website.

Island Pacific School students fundraise $4,635 for Covenant House!

Supporting youth to discover positive self-care activities

For most of us, the idea of self-care comes naturally.  Whether it’s going for a run, knitting, or reading a book, we can easily identify ways we relax and take care of ourselves in order to present our best self to the world and contribute to our family, friends, and work environments. 

However, it is easy to forget that there are many people who live in poverty, experience homelessness, or struggle with complex stress and trauma, and that these issues often crowd out our ability to engage in healthy activities that help to nurture and take care of ourselves.  At Covenant House Vancouver, we support youth in their discovery of these self-care activities and our staff truly enjoys creating opportunities for them to experiment with activities that help them explore a new side of themselves. 

One of our youth workers recently installed a Self-Care Idea Wall in the Pender Crisis Program to remind us all just how many ways we can engage in these healthy activities.  And whether it’s running or yoga, cooking group or knitting, clients at Covenant House are never short of opportunities to learn new ways to take care of themselves! 

Self-Care Discovery Wall

Building trust with our youth is a key to help them move forwards

When Steve first arrived at Covenant House Vancouver, he was difficult to engage to say the least. My first interactions with Steve were met with swearing, yelling and threats. The Crisis Program staff were very patient and empathetic, understanding that Steve was new to the program, and probably wasn’t used to such a structured environment.

My co-workers and I saw this as an opportunity to provide support to Steve and to help get his medical issues looked at. My co-worker and I offered Steve an escort to connect with local community resources, so he could be more familiar about supports available to him. Over the course of the escort, Steve really opened up to us; telling us about how he came to be at Covenant House, and a little about his history. By the end of the afternoon, Steve was laughing and joking with staff, and even thanked staff for going out with him saying it was the “best afternoon”.

It’s not uncommon for youth to be hesitant to engage with staff when they first arrive at the Crisis Program. For many youth, Covenant House staff are some of the first adults in their lives that they’re able to rely upon and trust. An important part of our job is providing unconditional support and guidance for the youth. It’s only after the youth learn they can trust staff that our young people can engage in the program and move forwards toward more stability.

Trust Image

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