Toronto – January 19, 2012
One third of homeless Canadians are between the ages of 16 and 24. That is 65,000 young people without a place to call home tonight. On February 10th, 500 students from 20 GTA schools are coming together for the second year of Tokens4Change, a one day event raising TTC tokens and donations for Youth Without Shelter (YWS).
Student volunteers will be taking over 30 TTC stations and PATH locations from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. At stations across the city, commuters can expect to see canvassers or student led performances about youth homelessness.
“When commuters walk by, they are going to be blown away with what has been created, we have musicians, actors, dancers, poets and more”, says Scott Parish, Tokens4Change founder.
Serving over 1,000 homeless youth each year, YWS is there when youth need them most. YWS doesn’t just provide the immediate necessities to survive, they equip youth with the skills and support they need to thrive. For a homeless youth a token can be the first step to getting their lives back. Transit tokens are essential to allow them to use public transit to get to school, the doctor, and housing appointments.
With the support of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and sponsors like Barrick, Boston Pizza, SNC Lavalin, and Pattison Outdoor Advertising the event has more than doubled since last year. In 2011 Tokens4Change was only in 10 stations but was a huge success, raising $30,000 in one day and providing the most media coverage the shelter has seen since its start in 1986.
The centre of the event this year is a party at Yonge-Dundas Square where Boston Pizza will be handing out fresh pizza and Toronto’s Number One Hit Music Station – KiSS 92.5 will be DJ’ing live on location throughout the day. At 3:30 p.m. there is also a 30 minute show lead by Project: Humanity of all the student performances created for the day – Media are encouraged to attend.
Local non-profit organization, Project: Humanity (PH), raises awareness through the arts and leads workshops with Toronto high schools and professional artists to create performances that shed light on youth homelessness and YWS‘ cause.
“These performances are a great opportunity for the students. It allows us to educate them on youth homelessness and then instantly empower them to do something about it,” says Daniel Chapman-Smith, Director of Events at PH.
Performance videos and photos will be available at www.tokens4change.com.
According to YWS, youth rarely leave a happy home for the streets. Over 70 per cent have experienced some form of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. The longer youth remain homeless, the lower their chances of living a healthy life becomes. Prior to arriving at YWS, 40 per cent have gone without food for one day in the past week.
Initially established by teachers and guidance counsellors who saw a real need in the community for a safe-haven for local youth, YWS has grown considerably in the past 25 years. It remains the singular emergency residence and referral agency located in Etobicoke serving homeless youth. Now, YWS is not only able to offer a safe, warm bed for youth but they have evolved to offer a full circle of care: counselling, effective life skills program, employment guidance, placement in affordable housing and a Stay in School Program.
YWS was recognized in 2010 and again in 2011 by Charity Intelligence as one of the most highly effective charities warranting investment in Canada.
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