There is definitely something wrong with an adult-driven society where economics, politics and culture allow children and youth to be homeless, hungry, unsafe and unwelcomed. There are two main ways that youth and homelessness interact, and those are through experience and action.
Ways Youth are Changing the World Focused on Homelessness
Homeless Youth Solving Homelessness — When young people experience homelessness, it can be healing, healthy and empowering to be engaged as part of the solution instead of simply being a problem. Addressing their circumstances through research, planning, facilitation, advocacy and reflection, homeless youth can transform the circumstances they and others are in while moving their communities’ perceptions in positive ways, too.
Youth as Mentors — Through trust-building, collective action and intentional communication, young people on the streets can form positive, empowering relationships with adults in their communities. Mutually beneficial conversations and interactions can increase the interest, ability and sustainability of homeless youth transforming their own lives.
Servant Leadership — Feeling they want to serve and be of service to their communities can drive youth to take action in meaningful ways that impact their lives and the lives of others. Servant leadership can allow homeless youth to raise the health and well-being of their communities by leading their peers, families and others to take action to improve everyone’s conditions throughout their communities.
Things Youth Need to Change the World Focusing on Homelessness
Training — Creating interactive, engaging learning opportunities in non-threatening, non-heirarchial ways can help transform the thinking, feelings, attitudes and actions of learners, whether adults or youth. Training homeless youth in skills and knowledge that can benefit them can be transformative. Topics and issues to address should come from youth themselves.
Technology — Providing access and validating homeless youths’ access to technology can be a powerful tool for social change. Building their own abilities to utilize and maximize the Internet, texting, social media and other tools can be very engaging and empowering.
Access — Homelessness is the absence of access. Even if a person is given access to become housed and fed, they might still be homeless because they don’t have access to healthcare or economic opportunities. Access is an essential tool for social change.
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in homelessness in your community or organization, contact us.