Students Participate in Annual Night Out to End Youth Homelessness

Lily Reavis, Editor-in-Chief

At 6am on Friday, November 17, several Manitou students awoke outside of the First United Methodist Church in downtown Colorado Springs. Frost and snow layered the ground and temperatures were in the low 30’s. For the third consecutive year, the school’s Gay Straight Transgender Alliance (GSTA) had participated in Urban Peak’s Night Out to End Youth Homelessness.

Night Out, an annual event put on by Urban Peak Youth Homeless Shelter in Colorado Springs, aims to raise awareness of youth homelessness. According to the Colorado Department of Education, 2,015 students in El Paso county experienced homelessness last year. Of these, 58 were without shelter of any sort and 372 relied on shelters such as Urban Peak to stay off the streets.

The event not only involved sleeping outside, but also a simulation to increase awareness of the challenges of living in poverty. “The poverty simulation was a lot more intricate, difficult and realistic [than last year’s], and I think it spoke a lot to the incredible amount of adversity that homeless people have to overcome every day,” said Aubrey Hall (11), co-president of the GSTA.

GSTA co-presidents Hall and Lily Reavis (12) organized the club’s participation in the event. Maddie Butts (11), Maya West (11) and Tyler Jungbauer (11) also participated. They were accompanied by English teacher and GSTA adviser Mark Searle. The night was the coldest recorded yet this season, with temperatures in the low 30’s and snowfall during the afternoon and early hours. 

The GSTA is specifically interested in this cause, as 20-40% of youth experiencing homelessness also identify within the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Several of these youth have experienced removal from their homes because of their identities. 

Participating groups were asked to raise funds for Urban Peak, where a night of shelter for one homeless youth costs an estimated $50. Last year, the GSTA raised $1,000. The club aims to meet that goal again this year. Last year, participants collectively raised $33,000. This year, Urban Peak hopes to raise $64,000, totalling 900 nights of shelter for homeless youth. The GSTA’s contribution would mean 20 nights in a shelter for homeless youth. 

As of Friday morning, the club had raised $120. To donate, please click here.