The goal of this story is to help 8th graders understand what it’s like for youth to experience homelessness and the many challenges and choices that someone faces when they live on the streets. The story will ideally take our reader-protagonists from that first night through the 15th night of leaving home, with challenges escalating the longer they are on the street.
To this end, we have provided multiple resources to help inform and ground your story. From the interviews with our youth council members who experienced homelessness, to research, to lists of agencies, and to a list of “Off Ramps”–moments where a small intervention with a youth in crisis may help prevent that youth from having to live on the street or help get them off. These are not the only situations, but definitely give you a good start to find multiple scenarios and crises youth may face throughout the story.
A note about tone and dignity: Young people face, are forced, or choose homelessness in response to many challenging issues. In some cases, living on the street may feel like a safer alternative. This project will respect and maintain their inherent human dignity without judgement or shame. Yes, unaccompanied youth may make mistakes, choose what others (and even themselves) perceive as poor choices, but the story should help us see where they’re coming from as they make these choices, not judge for making them.
TARGET AUDIENCE & RATING FOR THIS STORY
This story will be read/played by 8th Graders. The “rating” of the story should be “PG” in language, depictions of violence, and other mature content and themes. We understand that life on the streets can be very rough, and include issues like crime, sex, drug use, violence, abuse, and more. These may be depicted, but carefully and thoughtfully for this age group.
There are many kinds of crises that youth face and also many people and resources they might access that would provide help and even “off ramps” from homelessness to a safe, housed situation. Ideally, the story will touch on these different kinds of crises and offer choices to access the resources available (see the “Off Ramps” sheet for more information). Ideally, as the reader-protagonist reaches decision points in each frame, many will offer “off ramps” or a path to an off ramp.
GROUND YOUR STORY IN LIVED EXPERIENCE
To help inform your story, we’re providing some interviews from youth who experienced homelessness. This is one of the best resources for grounding your story in lived experience. (You don’t need to use these specific experiences.)
RESEARCH ON REACHING UNACCOMPANIED YOUTH
Research from the Lundquist School of Business OR Consulting Group at the University of Oregon provides some unique insight into the challenges unaccompanied youth face in finding and accessing resources and some ways to help make that easier. It’s a bit dense but packed with insight to help understand where youth might get stuck as they try to find resources to get off the streets.
Eugene Springfield Agencies & Resources
Stories must depict both settings and agencies/resources in the Eugene/Springfield area. We’ve included several lists of agencies and resources. The main list is “Resources with Descriptions and Pics,” but we’ve included others. You do not need to use all of the lists or every resource on the list, but do please choose specific resources from these lists. (And if we’ve somehow overlooked a critical resource, do let us know!)