Teens learn hard truth about life on the streets

A group of about 60 area teens spent some time Saturday thinking inside the box.

Cardboard boxes, that is.

As part of a youth program conducted by a variety of Methodist churches from as far away as Montrose, the kids learned not only what it was like to live in a makeshift home, but to actually build one.

Several struggled with large cardboard boxes in a parking lot at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Fifth Street in downtown Grand Junction.

Emily Kempton, a Grand Junction resident who organized the event, said she got the idea from a friend in Kentucky.

“This is our first event,” she said. “It’s about relating to people who experience this, especially with the economy like this, and understand how we as human beings are called upon to help each other.”

After building their makeshift homes, the youth spent the night in them.

But that wasn’t all they did.

After building their homeless camp, the teens spent the next few hours at various locations doing mission work around town. That included a little hard work, such as raking leaves.

They also did work to benefit The House, a teen homeless shelter in town, along with Community Food Bank, Homeward Bound and Hope of the Grand Valley.

In the evening, they heard from various homeless advocates.

“The kids experience a level of uncomfortability they’ve never experienced before,” Kempton said. “Hopefully the take-away from that is a relatability, to look differently at the people you pass on the corner. It gives you a different lens.

“Hopefully, they remember this when they’re 40 and 50 and 60 and making larger incomes,” she said. “They can then make larger impacts on the community that they can respond to their whole lives.”

Becky Clark, a Montrose resident who brought a group of teens from her church to participate in the event, said she hopes there’s at least one more important lesson for them:

“This is going to ensure that they take their education seriously,” she said.


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