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Walk for Homeless Youth opens eyes of students

Upper Canada College Year 8 boys were part of a group of more than 500 Toronto students that took part in the annual Walk for Homeless Youth to raise funds and awareness for those less fortunate than themselves on March 6.

The Walk for Homeless Youth challenges participants to put themselves in the shoes of someone experiencing homelessness and get a sense of what it feels like to be cold, tired and a little bit hungry. It helps them build empathy and understanding for their peers, as there are at least 10,000 homeless youth in Toronto every year, and as many as 2,000 on any given night.

Funds raised through the Walk for Homeless Youth go to shelter, food and programs at Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth, a Toronto-based organization that provides shelter and transitional housing for 123 young people aged 16 to 24.

Approximately $30,000 was raised this year by Walk for Homeless Youth participants. UCC students raised about $3,500, led by Jack Patterson with $1,225.

UCC Start

This year’s Walk for Homeless Youth used UCC as its starting point.

This was the ninth year that UCC students participated in the Walk for Homeless Youth, and the campus was used for the opening ceremonies and starting point.

“To say Upper Canada College enhanced the overall experience is an understatement,” says Eva’s Initiatives individual giving manager Pamela Loveless. “The revenue is critical, but even more inspiring was seeing so many young people standing up for their peers who are experiencing homelessness.”

The Walk for Homeless Youth is another of UCC’s ongoing service learning initiatives, and the students appreciated being involved. Here’s what four of them had to say:

Jamieson Power: “The walk was a huge eye-opener for me because normally, when walking with my parents for medium distances, I would complain about how tired and bored I was and wonder why we couldn’t just drive. On this walk, though, I noticed afterwards that I didn’t complain once because I think I realized that this was for a great cause and many people in Toronto have to do that every day, sometimes with no shoes.”

Daryan Fadavi: “The students did a great job of raising awareness. People on the street and in their cars saw the students and their signs, and heard their chants, and got an idea of the cause and the purpose of the walk.”

Jason Gao: “The students walked with each other and they socialized with each other, but the same thing cannot be said for a homeless person who often must walk in solitude for hours.”

Nikola Radan: “At several checkpoints, there were volunteers from Eva’s cheering the students on, telling them they were doing a good job and to keep going. That assurance was great, but it also made us realize that homeless people don’t have the same assurances.”

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