On April 9th, 2015, grades seven and eight students gathered at Muzzo Family Alumni Hall, located at the University of Toronto's St. Michael's College. Instead of attending class that day, the students found themselves on a field trip at the Trek for Teens 2015 Youth Homelessness Conference. The day was designed to present to these young minds the realities of homelessness, including the basic details, the striking statistics, and the resources available to those in need or those wishing to help. The day began with an excellent guest speaker, Matte Black. Matte, as a former homeless youth and current leader of the charity Heroes in Black, provided first-hand anecdotes and narratives from his life. His energetic and entertaining delivery helped to transform the issue of homelessness from an abstract and foreign issue to one which the students could ascribe humanity to, allowing the listeners to identify with Matte and see homeless youth not as a collection of numbers but of identities. Marcos Mendosa accompanied Matte and led the group in a warm up exercise and performance.
In addition to Matte Black and Marcos Mendosa, the conference presented to participants the opportunity to engage with charity workers in a workshop format. After lunch, the afternoon concluded with a scavenger hunt that required the students to circulate among the different booths at the Charity Ball. The students headed back home with a greater understanding of the causes and effects of youth homelessness, as well as a wealth of resources and supplementary courses of action to connect with for those who had been particularly inspired.
Trek for Teens would like to thank many individuals and groups for their support, including:
Liz Logie and Daisy MacIntosh of Arrabon House
April Nash and Patty Thomas of Choices Youth Shelter
Suzie Tarlattini of Covenant House Toronto
Matte Black of Heroes in Black
Bob Hall of Horizons for Youth
Ann Marie Moulton, Thanusha Krishnalingam, and Roshaany Sriranjan of Second Base Youth Shelter
Mike Burnett of Youth Without Shelter
A thank you, also, to Ray and Anthony Vidal for their photography and video footage. For photos of the day's events and to see how you can contact Ray or Anthony, head to our Facebook page.