As a high school dual enrollment English teacher and volunteer tutor for homeless youth, Bridget Kelly sees firsthand the challenges young people face today. To help them handle some of these challenges, she teaches problem-solving skills and creates an environment where her students feel comfortable communicating with her about negative pressures and influences. She also strives to help students understand they are not alone in their struggles.
Traditionally, many Boulder Creek students volunteer at animal shelters, the children’s hospital, and food banks. When Bridget learned about National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM), an annual public awareness campaign held in November designed to “Shine a Light” on the experiences of runaway and homeless youth, she recognized it would be an ideal opportunity for her students to help a worthwhile cause and learn about an issue impacting young people both locally and nationally. After sharing the details in a Zoom call, three of her students joined the effort as NRPM Youth Ambassadors.
“I was particularly enthused about National Runaway Prevention Month because it presents a unique opportunity for students to voice their opinions, tap into their creativity, and increase their understanding of an issue that affects people their age,” said Bridget. “Some of our students know someone who has run away, been asked to leave home, or has lived on the streets. Although our school is in an affluent community, our students understand youth homelessness can happen to anyone, anywhere.”
A new component of the 2020 campaign, NRPM Youth Ambassadors are joining to raise awareness and educate their peers about the issues facing runaway and homeless youth and the resources available to youth in crisis. Young people are planning events, such as virtual documentary screenings with a Q&A, and sparking engagement by sharing statistics and resources on social media.
NRPM is spearheaded by the National Runaway Safeline with support from the Family and Youth Services Bureau as well as individuals and organizations nationwide. In addition to Youth Ambassadors, nearly 100 nonprofit organizations engage their communities, politicians, and media to “Shine a Light” on runaway and homeless youth.
The National Runaway Safeline is deeply appreciative of educators like Bridget Kelly and her students who are passionate about helping others. We encourage you to join the movement as an NRPM partner or a Youth Ambassador by visiting 1800RUNAWAY.org/nrpm and completing the appropriate form.