CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - It's a cold night for students in Montgomery while Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy students participate in activities like Shantytown, an overnight experience that raises awareness of homelessness and hunger in our community and world.
Shantytown 2014 started at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21 when dozens of students and teachers gathered on CHCA's campus and built the shanty-style box homes they would spend the night in.
On Sunday, the group then left their temporary shelters and traveled downtown to walk Cincinnati's inner-city Over the Rhine area and learn about homelessness with the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless.
Students ended the evening around a campfire and discussed what they had learned. Almost every student had a different story. Some referenced statistics about veterans or about families experiencing homelessness (families make up 31 percent of the homeless population); others shared what they had learned from a homeless person who they talked with in Over the Rhine; others expressed the frustration they felt when they did not have resources during the poverty simulation.
The students went to bed at 11 p.m., and were woken by the "police" at 3 a.m. The startled and sleeping students and staff were forced to come out of their shanties for the police raid and "live" the reality that homeless people often face when they get caught sleeping in the wrong place. The students had to walk the track to simulate their move and learned that their shanties would fall apart if they moved them.
Shantytown students were up at 6 a.m. for a breakfast of oatmeal. From there, the unshowered and ungroomed participants moved into the halls of Martha S. Lindner High School for the school day. The event concluded at lunchtime with a shelter meal and final debriefing
What is City-Wide Shantytown?
Shantytown is an educational program where students are encouraged to sleep outside overnight at their school to bring awareness to the issue of homelessness.
Most shantytowns bring in a formerly homeless speaker, as well as several different educational activities so students can begin to understand modern day homelessness as it exists in Cincinnati. (Shantytown is not designed to be a simulation of homelessness but rather a shocking form of action that is designed to get students asking questions about homelessness).
The 2013 Shantytown experience brought in students from 30 Tri-State schools.
How to host a Shantytown at your school
Step 1: Get permission: Talk to school administrators and get permission to host the event as early as possible.
Step 2: Find chaperons and/or recruit student leaders: to plan and chaperon the event
Step 3: Select dates: schools are encouraged to select a date in October, which is Hunger & Homeless Awareness Month
Step 4: Determine participants : This may be based on a number of factors including age, grade, and population of the student body. Some schools may want to limit participants to only seniors or only juniors and seniors, others may want to include the entire student body. Whatever the case may be, this needs to be determined early on. Consider sending out permission slips and applications for students to participate (templates for these are available in the Shantytown Planning Guide).
Step 5: Register your school by filling out the online registration form here: http://cincihomeless.org/register-here-for-2014-shantytown/.
Step 6: After you register on-line you will be sent a confirmation email that will include an order form for you to select which activities your school would like to participate in. (Click here to view a list of activities and resources.)
See the 2014 City-Wide Shantytown/Hunger & Homeless Awareness Month Guide here: Shantytown Planning Guide 2014.