Living in a car is not very comfortable. Nina Hogue lived in her car for nearly five months. She was homeless. She had no food and no safe place to put her head down for more than a night. Nina was 18 and alone. There are many teens just like Nina on the streets of Kansas City right now.
Many teens leave their homes because of dysfunctional families and abuse. Some go to friends houses or live in cars. Others wonder in the streets. It must be terrifying to not have a safe place to lie down, or to have no food. The very thought of it is enough to scare you. Yet it’s happening to so many teens, every day. Like Nina, who stayed that way for nearly five months, waiting for a good break. The number of homeless teenagers in the Kansas City metropolitan area is on the rise. On any given day, 2,000 kids ages 12-18 are homeless, and that’s only in the Kansas City metropolitan area. What’s more? That’s doesn’t even include those in homeless families.
Researching, I found out about Synergy, the program Barstow is supporting this year. They take in teens that need food and shelter. Help is given to them until they can find something permanent or return home. But Synergy can only provide for 14 teens to stay overnight at a time. Every time they bring in someone, they have to turn away someone else.
This is why they are trying to expand into much more than just a shelter. Synergy wants to become a place where homeless teens can get medical attention, do homework, and express themselves through art, music, dance, and drama. Synergy wants to become a place where as many as 550 homeless teens can stay.
Surveying, I asked twelve and thirteen year old seventh graders, not unlike myself, on a scale of one to five, five being highest; do you know about what Synergy does for teens? Thirty-seven-point-five percent answered one. Eighteen-point-seven-five percent answered two. Thirty-seven percent answered three. Only six-point-two-five percent answered four. And saddest of all, zero percent answered five. And when I asked if they had been to a homeless shelter before, thirty-seven-point-five percent answered yes. But sixty-tow-point-five percent answered no.
1 in 50 US children experience homelessness at some point. President Obama said, "It is not acceptable for children and families to be without a roof over their heads in a country as wealthy as ours." With the number of homeless people on the rise, the economy is going down. So not only is it important for the homeless people, but also the rest of America. The teens who are alone right now need your help.
Just consider, 1.3 million runaway teens are living on the streets of America. One out of every seven teens will runaway before their eighteenth birthday. Forty-six percent of runways were physically abused at home before they ran away. Forty-seven percent ran away because of a conflict with a parent or guardian. Seventeen percent had dropped out of school. Thirty-Two percent will try to kill themselves. 5,000 homeless and runaway teens die from assault, illness and suicide. These numbers are alarming, but are all too true.
Ok, so there aren’t only teenagers that are homeless, but 1 out of 3 homeless people are under the age of eighteen. That’s one third of the homeless population, which is a huge number, divided or not. KMBC 9 News writes, “The number of homeless teenagers in Kansas City is growing because of the slow economy.” They refer you to Synergy Services if you want to help.
And homelessness is not just happening here, it’s all over the world. And the earthquake in Haiti didn’t help the people of Haiti. Now there are children of all ages wondering the streets, looking for their parents, relatives, friends, anyone. And since it has been so hard just to get to the people we know are there, think how hard it will be to get to those children. They are just wondering the streets, looking for a place they can call home.
So, in a way, we are all tied together. When the number of homeless people goes up, the economy goes down. So that’s another reason to help, and what better a place than to start in Kansas City. So, in conclusion, helping out just a bit here and there at shelters, like Synergy, won’t just help the 2,000 Kansas City native teens who are currently homeless, but the whole United States of America, and furthermore, the world. So remember, taking a little timeout of your day to help out, can make a world of a difference.
“Homeless teens deserve new home.” The Kansas City Star 17 Aug. 2008: n. pag. Web. 6 Feb. 2010. <http://voices.kansascity.com/node/1856>.
Knopik, Sarah. Personal interview. 4 Feb. 2010. Mrs.Knopik’s 7th Grade Writer’s Workshop class
“Number Of Homeless Teens In KC Grows.” KMBC-TV Kansas City. N.p., 4 Feb. 2010. Web. 10 Feb. 2010. <http://www.kmbc.com/news/22465916/detail.html>.
Youth Noise. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Feb. 2010. <http://www.youthnoise.com/page.php?page_id=518>.