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.