By Bella Crysler –
On December 6, students from Nepean High School will spend the night sleeping outside for this year’s “SleepOUT” for youth event. Organized by the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa (YSB), participants will set up tents on the field at TD Place and brave the cold to raise awareness for homeless youth in Ottawa. Nepean students taking part in the fundraising and awareness event each raised a minimum of $100. So far, team Nepean has raised over $3000, which will help YSB fund shelters, programs, and services for Ottawa youth.
Over the past six years, over 20,000 people have taken part in the event, raising over $1 million for the cause.
Ainsley Skelly is leading the Nepean campaign this year and is happy that Nepean students are participating in an event that benefits high school-aged kids in our community.
“This is an important issue to me personally because I have the privilege of living under a roof, in a warm house, with a bed to go home to and a lot of people my age don’t,” says Ainsley. She believes high school students should be more aware of the issue of youth homelessness. “It’s more common than you think and even if you don’t know anyone that is homeless there is most likely someone around you that is somewhat at risk, or may be living in poverty,” says Ainsley. “It’s important that we understand that not everyone is as privileged as we are”.
There are currently about 1,400 homeless youth in Ottawa with 1 in 4 shelter clients under the age of 17. Of that 1,400, 68% have at least one diagnosable mental health issue.
The money raised in SleepOUT will go directly to finding housing solutions and funding support programs for these members of our community. To donate to the Nepean High School team, please visit the official fundraising page hosted by YSB.
Bella Crysler is a grade 12 student at Nepean High School.