Pay it Forward icon 1Pay It Forward

Liz Hernandezjames 1

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be on the streets without a home to go to? With the Stories of Youth Homelessness training, The Mockingbird Society’s young adult staff introduce different scenarios that put audience members in the “driver’s seat” of being on the streets. The training goes over how to increase one’s level of empathy, increase one’s level of awareness, and most of all, how to help end youth homelessness.

Youth homelessness is not a choice. Being in the shoes of a street kid is not easy, and not something young people truly choose if they have real options. Every day is different, and resources for food, shelter, and hygiene can be hard to access depending on what community you are in. When youth are on the streets they will see traumatic things that most people won’t experience. The consequences can be cruel and exhausting, and affect everyone differently. Death, physical violence, unexpected pregnancies, STD’s, the inability to effectively deal with mental illness, and the lack of opportunity to find adequate healthcare are real challenges homeless youth encounter consistently. In addition, youth may fall into debt as they try to get what they need. There are many other experiences that youth face when homeless — the training offers a small glimpse of the range of experiences. The positive thing is that even simply showing empathy towards a homeless youth can go long way. We encourage audience members to show they care, and that youth are worth their time. We also talk about organizations in the community that have helped us like YouthCare, New Horizons, Lambert House, PSKS and many, many more. So while the training is challenging, it is also uplifting.

Through this comprehensive training, you will experience the difficulties and hard decisions that face youth who have been homeless. You will also get a lot of tips about how to effectively work with or advocate with youth. After attending the training, spread the word! Not only will you help the movement of making youth homelessness a priority topic in our state, you will also help another person increase their empathy and awareness.

I have helped facilitate two of these trainings in the last two months, and I can tell you from experience that this training has changed lives. After my co-facilitators and I told our stories, many people told us that their empathy and awareness had increased and that they wanted to do as much as they could to help our cause. Some of the audience members mentioned that they were surprised at some of the choices they would make if they were on the streets. Others mentioned how they would try to travel around with pets even though many shelters don’t allow animals. Some mentioned how their choices when they were younger would have been different in comparison to choices they would make right now. You can learn a lot from this training.

If you are interested in attending a training contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.