Grade 8 Victoria students spend cold, noisy night outside for homelessness project


WATCH: A group of Grade 8 Central Middle School students got an eye-opening firsthand account of what life on the streets is really like. April Lawrence has more.

Running on little sleep Wednesday afternoon, Alan Barwin and his Grade 8 class were reflecting on the night they just spent outdoors.

It was 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night when the Media and Social Justice class took cardboard and sleeping bags and set up camp outside the front doors of Central Middle School. The camp out was part of a project to learn more about homelessness called Homeless in Victoria.

“It’s just trying to understand what they go through,” said student Jack Hogg.

They documented their adventure on social media, hoping to share the experience beyond their small group.

“One night was really hard to go through because it was really cold so it must be a million times worse for people who have to go through that every single day,” said Hogg.

The students were aware it was just a snapshot of what life on the streets is really like ? their night out included a rainy late night basketball game, lots of laughs, and, since it was a school night, homework.

“None of us have any thoughts that this was what reality for a homeless person is like but they got a taste of it and now they can empathize a bit and extrapolate a bit and guess what it might be like if people had to live this for every day of their lives,” said teacher Alan Barwin.

The students were up at 6:15 a.m. and headed indoors for a warm breakfast and a day of classes.

Many said they learned how hard it is to get a decent sleep with so much noise.

“A lot of people were coming by who saw us asleep and weren’t very considerate about it. If I see someone sleeping I can always be considerate and be quiet when I’m walking by,” said student Camille Jaques.

And the uncomfortable sleep made them appreciate the fact they were there by choice.

“I’ll take more gratitude of what I have and feel a lot more empathy towards people that have to live out there,” said student Floyd Scott.

The students plan to take the lesson with them and use it to open their friends’ eyes to the harsh realities of life on the streets.

“For sure next time if they ever make a joke about homeless people I’ll correct them and tell what they go through is no joke, it’s bad,” said Hogg.

The students spent Wednesday afternoon writing blog posts and articles they will publish in their magazine and their website.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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