Kamloops youth homeless advocate hopes to increase awareness with campout event | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops youth homeless advocate hopes to increase awareness with campout event

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December 12, 2018 - 3:13 PM

KAMLOOPS - More than 60 people are expected to camp outside this Friday to raise awareness for youth affected by homelessness in Kamloops.

A Way Home Kamloops Society executive director Katherine McParland says the event gives people a firsthand experience of what homeless youth face on the streets.

“It’s so important to stand in solidarity with young people,” McParland says, adding that for many, sleeping outside is a reality they face every day.

The most recent youth homeless count conducted in May found that 136 youth between the ages of 13 and 24 had been without a home at some point in the past year, according to McParland.

The society is hoping to collect $100,000 which would go towards creating safe suites, a housing project for youth at risk of experiencing homelessness which would open next spring.

So far, McParland says they have received $17,000 in donations.

“I don’t know if we will achieve the ($100,000) goal but we are going to try our best,” she says.

Last year the event raised more than $28,000 in donations.

McParland who is an advocate for youth homelessness says this is an issue that has affected many people personally, including herself.

“When I aged out of care and experienced homelessness, I really felt like nobody cared,” she says. “I remember being on the streets and being so cold, trying to warm up my wet socks and being so desperate.”

McParland says teaching people to be empathic and understanding through events like this, has been an effective way to get people to care.

“We have been working hard since 2015 to bridge that gap,” she says.

Currently, there are more than 60 people registered for the Camp out to End Youth Homelessness on Friday, Dec. 14.

The campout will be located at Mastermind Studios and will take place from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Campers will sleep in cardboard boxes.

Some of this year's campers include city councillors Kathy Sinclair, Sadie Hunter, Bill Sarai and Mike O'Reilly. McParland encourages anybody, even if they aren't camping out, to stop by the event for some of the speeches and presentations that will take place at 7 p.m.

"We have got a couple people with lived experience who will be sharing their story," she says. "We will also have each of the campers say why they are camping out because it's often very personal." 

Anyone that would like to make a donation can do so by cash or cheque at 653 Victoria St. from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. or at Masterminds Studios at 954 Laval Cres. starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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