By Diltaj Atwal, March 5 2015 —
From March 8–13, five University of Calgary students will live, eat and sleep outside for the Five Days for the Homeless campaign to raise money and awareness for youth homelessness.
Five Days for the Homeless co-chair Rachel Petit said this is the third year the campaign has been active at the U of C. The group usually gets five participants per year, including Petit.
“Students sleep outside and have no access to food or money. All they have is a sleeping bag and a pillow. We’ll be sleeping in the TFDL Quad this year,” Petit said.
Petit said living like the homelessness isn’t easy. They can’t shower or buy food and they have to put up with poor weather. They have to rely on food given to them on campus. If no one donates, they don’t eat.
“That’s really realistic to what it would be like for a homeless youth. By participating in it, you understand yourself as a person as well as what it might actually be like to go through those trials and tribulations,” Petit said. “So it changes you as person but it also allows you to communicate those experiences with other people.”
The initiative was started by University of Alberta business students in 2005. The campaign has raised over $1.2 million since 2005 for charities that support homeless and at-risk youth across Canada.
Petit said they raised $6,500 last year and hope to raise at least $5,000 this year. Donations will go to Avenue 15, a local homeless youth shelter in Calgary.
While the national campaign targets all forms of homelessness, Petit said the U of C’s chapter chooses to target youth homelessness specifically.
“For us, it’s a unique way of getting attention to a cause. It’s one thing to say ‘I support youth homelessness’, but it’s another thing to step into that situation and experience what that feels like,” Petit said.