Sleep Out 120
is a five-day, 120-hour-long campaign during which participants commit to living
“homeless” on the streets of St. John’s to raise awareness on the issue of youth
housing and homelessness in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In addition, the campaign
aims to raise monetary funds for its recipient charity(s) that supports youth in
the St. John’s metro area.
By encouraging our city’s young people to
sacrifice their comforts and stand up for those less fortunate than themselves,
this campaign supports a vision of social responsibility through youth
Sleep Out 120 was created by a group of Child and Youth Care students at
Eastern college. It all started with conversation amongst students who wanted to
create change within the St. John’s area surrounding the youth housing and
homelessness issues. Initially our initiative was to follow the national
campaign called Five Days for the homeless, (www.5days.ca). As a group, the
national start date didn’t work for the student, so as a group we decided to ask
Five Days for the Homeless if we could guide our rules and guidelines by their
campaign. Five Days gave us permission and we decided to create our own
campaign, Sleep Out 120.
We began working on the campaign in January 2010 and we built our committee
at the beginning of February and our start date of the campaign was April 5,
2010. The 2010 Sleep Out 120 campaign raised awareness through major media
outlets and raised over $9’500.00. We showed that we had a group of young people
who were not only interested but extremely passionate to create change in St.
John’s concerning youth housing and homeless.
The committee was assembled in September 2010, as the months went on, new
members joined the committee. The committee consisted of participants and
employees from the Housing and homelessness Network, Choices For Youth and For
The Love Of Learning. We had a participant team of 20; all of the participants
have educational and work backgrounds in either Social Work or Child and Youth
Care. The Friendship centre and The Murphy centre provided a talking circle at
their youth centre which consisted of the participant team, employees and the
youth. At both of these circles, we had the opportunity to meet youth who are at
risk, to hear their voices on the issue of homelessness and to give us the
understanding for the need for the Sleep Out 120 campaign and other campaigns
that help to create change on homelessness because it will not change overnight.
The media helped to cover the three aspects of our key messaging which were
the 5 barriers that youth face (LGBT, Aboriginal, substance abuse & addiction,
sexual exploitation and aging out of care), the lack of affordable and
supportive housing and when affordable, the housing units tend to be
The 2011 Sleep Out 120 campaign team had tremendous passion and worked
productively together. The involvement from the community and community services
was much appreciated. The awareness of youth homelessness was presented well by
the main stream media outlets and we raised over $15’000.00.