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Affordable Housing , Community Development , Homelessness , Housing Policy Briefs , State News , Supportive Housing

High School Students Raise Awareness of Youth and Young Adult Homelessness

26 April 2017
Youth and Family Services of Old Saybrook

Heather McNeil, Director of Youth and Family Services, Old Saybrook Youth Action Council

Teen homelessness may not seem like a big issue to many in the sleepy town of Old Saybrook, but to the students in this community, it’s worth talking about. Just because a person isn’t sitting on a street corner in rags doesn’t mean that they have a stable living environment. Whether it’s due to a family dynamic, drug use, mental illness, physical/emotional abuse or even immigration issues, many teens find themselves “couch surfing” as they struggle to finish high school. And often their neighbors and friends don’t suspect anything. With ~3,000 youth estimated to be homeless in the state in 2016, which includes those who are couch surfing or having to move around a lot, this is a big problem for Old Saybrook and many other towns.

High School Senior Phillip Max Ledwith has partnered with Youth and Family Services of Old Saybrook to do something about it for his senior project. This Friday, April 28th, approximately 40 teens have volunteered to build their own shelter and stay overnight in cardboard boxes to bring awareness to this crucial issue.

This “Cardboard Community” will be built by the students on the town green at 6:30 pm. But don’t think that they will be texting on their phones all night, enjoying a slumber party atmosphere. Students may only bring a short list of approved items including a sleeping bag, socks and a roll of duct tape. All other items must be donated by the community in order for them to receive them. And support for this event has been amazing. Cardboard, pizzas, ice cream, water bottles and tarps have all been offered by local businesses.  

So come out and join these amazing kids as they work to raise awareness of youth and family homelessness in CT. Donations are accepted at the site that evening and may include feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes/toothpaste and other hygiene items, new underwear, socks and undershirts, and cash/check donations as well. All financial donations will go to local and regional housing shelters and Partnership for Strong Communities.

For more information, please call Heather McNeil, Director of Youth and Family Services, Old Saybrook Youth Action Council at 860-395-3190.

To participate, or support this group of High School students stop by the Town Green which is just down the street from the Town Hall at 302 Main Street, Old Saybrook, CT 06475.

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