Submitted by Anna Berglas and Ellis Bissonnette
very year, teams from across Ottawa participate in the SleepOUT initiative, led by the Youth Service Bureau (YSB). This fundraiser, which takes place on November 28, 2019, raises funds dedicated to giving resources to vulnerable youth. Sleeping outside is a show of solidarity for more than 1,400 youth who experience homelessness. Nepean High School has a team called Nepean Knights, and these students will be sleeping in tents at the TD Place field.
Teams are not just restricted to school groups, but also include groups from local businesses and organizations, including accounting consultant organization BDO Canada and Tomlinson Red Army. At the Nepean High club fair, more than 150 students expressed interest in the event.
Rachel Lowenberg, a Grade 12 student, has taken on the role of Nepean Knights team captain. As well as leading the Model UN club and KEY club, Rachel is a member of YSB’s Youth Cabinet, a group of high school representatives who meet monthly to take action in support of other youth.
“I got introduced to the Youth Cabinet, which is the teenage representative branch of the YSB that runs throughout the year and they are responsible for organizing and helping with the sleepout as well as other events,” said Rachel.
“All the money goes to youth shelters and youth services, so that’s mental health helplines, that’s counselors, that’s housing aids [which] help those who have been in shelters […] transition into more sustainable means of living.”
Last year, 650 people participated, raising $228,000, with a team of about 10 or 15 Nepean High students taking part.
From 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. the following day, all participants will join in activities such as photobox, bubble soccer, crazy forts, and All Night Fireside Chats, sponsored by Bell Let’s Talk.
“Though the fundraising minimum is relatively high for what some students would consider affordable, it is well worth it for the cause and the activities and all the other opportunities that can come out of attending an event as big as this,” Rachel said.
For those interested in supporting this cause, donations can be made to the Nepean High team on the YSB SleepOut site by searching Nepean Knights. In addition, everyone has the opportunity to create their own team. Team divisions can be youth leaders, corporate, community organisation, or even family and friends.
Be sure to check in on how Nepean High’s SleepOUT team is doing throughout this month, and get ready to support students as they brace for the cold on November 28.