Using privilege to the advantage of others

Some do a one day sleep out, others do it for five days.

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Instead of taking her privilege for granted, Montana Myers is using it to do good by being homeless for five days.

For her second year in a row, Myers is spending this week experiencing homelessness.

“We are not trying to claim we are homeless,” Myers said. “It is definitely about experiencing homelessness.”

That experience is not easy. Participants like Myers are required to give up their access to social media, live in sleeping bags, only eat or drink what is donated to them and still attend their regular classes.

“It’s definitely been a tough almost 24 hours,” Myers said.

She realizes the difficulty still pales in comparison to what the homeless population experiences on a daily basis. Myers said the added advantages of being able to use the school washroom and being safe on campus are luxuries the homeless do not have.

Being an advocate of community service learning Myers said this experience has much more power than online donations.

“I find this a lot more effective than if you made a GoFundMe campaign,” she said.

The Carleton University business students are part of a national campaign called 5 Days for the Homeless. Since 2005, the program has aimed to raise awareness around the issue of homelessness and raise money for local charities.

This is the fourth year Carleton business students have taken part in the initiative. This year, participants are hoping to raise $12,000 for Operation Come Home.

Dominique Murphy, lead of the drop-in centre and housing support worker at Operation Come Home said these funds will go right back into programs or services.

Although these funds are important and necessary to do their work, Murphy said their top priority is awareness. Raising awareness helps end preconceived notions that homeless youth are just rebellious Murphy said.

“Our main focus is to raise awareness around youth homelessness,” she said.

That awareness has the ability to reduce stigma around the homeless population and humanize it Murphy said.

She explained the purpose of these sorts of events is to understand homelessness as much more then the absence of a home.

“It’s really all to benefit clients and youth,” Murphy said.

Back at Carleton, Myers said she hopes everyone has the opportunity to do some sort of event to raise awareness for the homeless population.

“I think it’s an experience everyone should do at least once,” Myers said.

For more information, or to donate to any of the campaigns head to 5days.ca.

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