By Sydney Harada and Ashley Rojas, Eighth Graders
To follow up our last article, we wrote about National Homeless Day and how its a day dedicated to help the many homeless people around your community. But, our article made us realize that Miami Dade County Schools is doing something to help homeless teens.
Homeless teens are young people who are oftentimes living on their own, without a permanent or stable place to call their home. Homeless youth are at a heightened risk of harm in relation to other teens their age; they are also more than likely to undergo mental illness, experience poor health, drop out of school, and become involved with or can become victims of criminal activity. Life on the streets is dangerous and unpredictable, leaving these teens vulnerable to being exploited, abused, or killed.
So what is Miami Dade County Public Schools doing to help homeless teens within the community? They created a project, which is Project UP-START. Project UP-START was created to help prevent homeless children and youth from being stigmatized, separated, segregated, or isolated on the basis of their status as homeless. They serve homeless children and youth by ensuring that they are assisted with school placement, registration, homeless awareness activities for students, school-based personnel, and community and groups, after-school tutorial program at select homeless shelters, and transportation services.
We interviewed Ms. Diana Venturini, an Executive Producer of community resources at the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Board, who is in charge of helping homeless teens that lack essential resources. She states, “We're looking at [certain factors], might be short of food, clothing, beds, ...money for prom, GradBash, or for other activities. As well as maybe there are no beds...” Many of the times, teachers and students reach out to higher professions to seek help for homeless teenagers.
Ms. Venturini also tells us that, “I am the person who reaches out to Community Foundation, to companies, to some individual philanthropists, to get the money that is needed to purchase whatever needs of emergency that are happening at the moment.” Ms. Venturini helps with finding fundings for things such as, buying a laptop for college, makeup.
There are many things we can do to help the homeless teens that are all around our community. For example, you can reach out to stores and ask if they are willing to donate anything to help the teens that are in need. You can help start drives and petitions to help as well. Regardless, there is an endless list of things you can do to try helping the teens. In the end, all that matters is that you were able to make a difference.