While 2020 has been a challenging year, it has reminded us of the importance of helping others. As we have all faced unique struggles, our communities have continually responded with support.
This willingness to step up and help those in need was evident during National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM). In November, more than 120 partner organizations and 10 youth ambassadors joined the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) to recognize NRPM by shining a light on the issues facing runaway and homeless youth.
Throughout the month, NRS and our partners planned fun and educational events to engage communities and raise awareness about the experiences of runaway and homeless youth. New Beginnings in Lewiston, Maine, for example, hosted a watch party where they showed “The Homestretch” documentary followed by a Q&A, and their local Town Hall was lit green in support of NRPM. On the Jersey Shore, Ocean Harbor House’s Stepping Forward Walk rallied community support while bringing attention to the ways their organization cares for and empowers vulnerable youth.
Additionally, partners used social media to spread the word about NRPM, posting information and photos. Supporters added the “Shine a Light” filter to their Facebook profiles on November 1st and partners proudly displayed collages of staff, volunteers, and donors dressed in every shade of green – from hunter to olive to mint to Kelly – on Wear Green Day.
The creativity shown by partners was quite impressive. Jackson Street Youth Services in Oregon hosted their annual competition encouraging staff and youth to decorate their shelters using as much green as possible. The winning location receives the coveted #GreenPlunger award! Congratulations to this year’s winners at the Corvallis House shelter!
Buildings and landmarks throughout the country were lit green in honor of NRPM. From Niagara Falls in New York to the Stonewall Alliance Offices in California, and at many buildings in between, green lights signified support for the millions of young people experiencing homelessness across the U.S. each year.
While partners and youth ambassadors were busy with NRPM activities, the team at NRS hosted Education Week, a social media campaign that provided insights on runaway and homeless youth issues through statistics and messaging. We shared information about the magnitude of youth homelessness; legal barriers facing this young population; barriers to education; the Home Free program; and human trafficking. We also engaged with supporters and service providers through a 3-part Lunch & Learn series and an interesting and active Twitter Chat. During November, NRS experienced a 10-fold increase in social media impressions and engagement!
At the 2020 National RHY Grantees Training, we had the opportunity to network with colleagues from other agencies and exchanged ideas on how to create a more positive future for our country’s youth. Of course, with the conference being held in November, we also engaged attendees in NRPM activities.
The unusual circumstances of 2020 did not deter our NRPM partners and youth ambassadors from executing a wildly successful campaign. We truly appreciate the work each organization embraces to make life better for youth in crisis and we are in awe of their passion for National Runaway Prevention Month. Thank you to all who supported this year’s public awareness campaign. We look forward to NRPM 2021.