Thank you to all of our friends and supporters who came out last week for our annual Light the Night One Mile Walk as part of National Runaway Prevention Month. Youth homelessness is an issue that many of our organizers and donors are passionate about, and we wanted to use this event to connect with the St. Petersburg community and raise awareness about the issue. We couldn’t have made the impact we did without your help.
What Is Light the Night?
Light the Night is a one-mile walk where participants bring candles, lanterns, glow sticks, and bright posters to raise awareness about youth homelessness. This event allows the community to focus on a serious problem in St. Petersburg and across the entire nation.
This year’s theme was “Shine a Light,” with the goal of helping people realize that youth homelessness is not just an issue that happens in other states or cities, but a challenge we face right in our own neighborhood. We hosted the walk on Thursday, November 29.
The Family Resources Light the Night One Mile Walk ended at the future site of our Safe Connections Center, a project we are currently raising funds for. Safe Connections will be a center for youth in crisis where they can have access to basic needs, supportive services, and counseling. We are currently raising funds to build this center and are working with developers to finalize the building plans.
Every participant who came out to Light the Night brought us one step closer to making this youth crisis center a reality while helping the St. Petersburg community understand that youth homelessness is a very real problem in our area.
Homeless youth aren’t always on the streets. They couch surf, sleep in cars, or seek out shelters. Many people don’t realize how pressing this problem is in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County because they don’t see the kids on the streets. However, the sheer number of homeless youth in our area is staggering:
- The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention estimates that 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away each year in the United States.
- During the 2012-2016 school years, the Florida Department of Education says there were 13,387 homeless students in Pinellas County alone.
- LGBT youth make up 5-7% of the total population, but they make up 40% of total homeless youth.
The epidemic of youth homelessness won’t be solved by one event, but if more people realize just how pressing this issue is, then we can work together to make sure kids and teens in our area have a safe place to live and sleep each night.
About National Runaway Prevention Month
November kicks off National Runaway Prevention Month, a campaign that focuses on youth homeless issues. Organizations across the country host events in honor of this month, with the goal of raising awareness about youth homelessness while educating communities about the steps they can take to end it.
National Runaway Prevention Month is National Runaway Safeline, the federally-designated communication system for homeless youth.
If you were unable to attend our Light the Night One Mile Walk, or want to learn about other ways you can raise awareness about the plight of youth homelessness, check out the National Runaway Prevention Month website. They have a toolkit for participants with opportunities to add a filter to your Facebook profile, observe Wear Green Day in November, and join Twitter chats around the issue.