The 10th annual Walk for Homeless Youth started on the Upper Canada College campus on Tuesday morning and ended with a record-breaking amount of money being raised for Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth.
CityNews and Radio-Canada Toronto covered the opening of the walk at UCC, which continued south through downtown. It involved 500 students in grades six through 10 from 13 schools, including Grade 8 boys from UCC who were taking part for the eighth time. They raised $20,000 through pledges for the walk, which far exceeds last year’s total of $12,000 and this year’s target of $14,000.
“Funds raised for shelter, nutritious food and caring 24-7 support for residents at Eva’s facilities is absolutely needed and goes directly to supporting youth,” says Eva’s marketing and communications director Andrea Gunraj. “Every night, 123 young people stay with us across our three facilities, and it costs $2,858 per month for each young person to be there and get the supports they need.
“But the event is also important for awareness-raising because basic shelter is not the only thing young people need to thrive. They need educational programs, employment training, and life skill-building. They need housing help, medical and mental health support, and counselling to help them reconnect to supportive family and friends so they aren’t so isolated. They need opportunities to get connected to their broader communities and feel like active, cared-for members.
“Eva’s provides these services, but we simply can’t do it alone. It takes entire communities to support homeless youth, and we want to inspire people to join in on the efforts to ultimately end youth homelessness for good.”
Charity Intelligence chose Eva’s as one of the top 10 high-impact charities in Canada. Its independent analysis found that every dollar donated to Eva’s results in nine dollars in social impact.
There are at least 10,000 homeless youth in Toronto every year, and as many as 2,000 on any given night. Gunraj says most of them leave home because of serious issues like family breakdown, abuse and neglect, and they often feel safer on the streets than at home.
“Still, the harms are still there, such as interrupted schooling and high rates of mental health concerns and suicide attempts.”
The situation isn’t entirely bleak, however. Gunraj points out that many homeless youth are still “hopeful for a better future, eager for new opportunities, and deserving of our greatest kindness and care.”
The Walk for Homeless Youth is a significant part of UCC’s ongoing service learning initiatives and provides an opportunity to expose students to community service, ignite their passion to help others and raise awareness regarding those less fortunate than themselves. It challenges students to put themselves in the shoes of someone experiencing homelessness and to get a small sense of what it feels like to be cold, tired and a little bit hungry.
“There is no way the Walk for Homeless Youth could have reached this 10th record-breaking year without UCC,” says Gunraj.
“UCC made WHY17 a success, supporting us with the morning kickoff on the beautiful Lonsdale campus and the largest contingent of student participants. We’re very grateful to UCC for being incredible allies to young people at Eva’s.”