Youth Face Homelessness

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It shocks most people when they hear it: the average age of a homeless person in America is … nine! And in most big cities, thousand of teens have no place to live or no adult supervision. A group of Chicago youth got an eye-opening lesson in the challenges these homeless youngsters face, and Reed Galin shows us how one of them took action.     

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(Locator: Chicago, Illinois)

On a frigid night, these middle-class kids get a cold dose of reality. Like many large cities, Chicago has 10,000 teenagers with no place to live. So, this group wonders how a 12 or 14-year-old would survive on the streets.

Henry Nash, 12-year-old: “I’m looking for a place that I could spend the night and find something to eat.”

They find a spot in an alley behind a hospital, where someone lives in a cardboard box and digs through dumpsters for scraps of food.

Isabel Hale, 13-year-old: “I was thinking a lot about how scary it was, because we walked through alleys.”

Fortunately for these kids, their homelessness only lasts an hour.

The so-called “night walk” is an interactive experience offered by the non-profit “Night Ministry”.

Leader to youth group: “You were scared...”

After the walk, the participants open up about the desperation they witnessed.

Isabel Hale, 13-year-old: “I felt like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe people actually have to do this’ and I only did it for an hour.”

Church member to Matthew: “Matthew, congratulations on your work.”

Matthew Lipman saw a need to help homeless youth even before the “night walk”.

Matthew Lipman, 13-year-old: “You take for granted your shoes and brushing your teeth, but some people don’t even have some of those things.”

Matthew at donation table: “Thank you.”

Matt organized a donation drive at his home church, First United Methodist, to get money and materials to make hygiene kits.

He raised nearly a thousand dollars and enough toothpaste, toothbrushes and shampoo for dozens of kits.

Joan Brogdon, Matthew’s Mother: “He’s impressed about how generous various church members are and he’s really inspired by this.”

Inspired … but also saddened by the ongoing problem … Matthew and his classmates left the “night walk” vowing to get others involved.

Henry Nash, 12-year-old: “I would tell them to appreciate what you have, even if it’s not much, it’s still something.”


For more information on the night walk and other activities, you can visit the Web site.

Also, see: Youth experience 'night walk' as homeless teen