How might high school students gain empathy and understanding of the issue of homelessness in an effort to eradicate the problem?
Seeing the unseen need was the theme of Break Through 2011, which focused on the complex issue of homelessness. This project was deeply rooted in empathy, with opportunities to learn from experts in the field, as well as the people experiencing homelessness. Break Through volunteers began the project with a Poverty Simulation, a three-hour interactive simulation of the experience of living in poverty and the challenges it brings. With greater understanding, we moved forward in the project, working with area shelters, including the Boise Rescue Mission, Women’s and Children’s Alliance and City Light Home for Women to do hands-on improvement projects at each location. Further opportunity for understanding came with a dinner and children’s carnival for residents of City Light, where students shared a meal with the families, learned more about their stories and experienced equally the joy in simple games and cotton candy.
In addition to the extensive landscaping and structural improvements at the Boise Rescue Mission, Women’s and Children’s Alliance and City Light Home for Women, 100+ student and adult volunteers learned more about the complex issue of homelessness and the impact of poverty on a community.