KAMLOOPS — It certainly wasn’t the most restful night of sleep for many of the campers at the inaugural A Way Home Camp-out to End Youth Homelessness.
“I slept probably three hours in total, through the night,” event organizer Rocky Hunter said.
“It was very cold, it was noisy,” City Councillor Kathy Sinclair said of sleeping in the elements. “It probably took an extra two or three hours to get to sleep.”
The event certainly opened the participant’s eyes to the reality facing the many youth who have nowhere else to go in our community. According to Youth Homelessness Manager at A Way Home Kamloops, Katherine McParland, the event drew 52 participants - which is four less than the number of homeless youth counted in the October 2016 Youth Homelessness Count.
“Some people have shared that they have loved ones impacted by homelessness,” McParland explained. “Others said they’ve been inspired by the work we’ve been doing and just want to come together, and a lot of our A Way Home members are here.”
The event raised funds for A Way Home’s Safe Suites initiative. According to Hunter, they’ve received over $28,000 in donations so far, with that number expected to rise.
“It’s fantastic,” Hunter said. “[A Way Home] needs $200 - $300,000 to do safe suites for the kids, so that’s our goal, and we’re going to work towards that.”
For McParland, funding the Safe Suites would mean a fresh start for many of those youth who have nowhere else to go.
“It’s going to be a safe place where youth can come… build community, and feel like they’re together and not alone,” McParland said. “It’s going to recreate that family privilege that so many young people need.”
With the success of this year's camp-out, Hunter says they’ve already started planning for next year’s event, which is tentatively scheduled for December 14th, 2018.
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