It’s a crowded classroom, right before lunchtime. Students sit and listen attentively to Suzie, a Covenant House Awareness and Prevention facilitator.
Suzie’s talking about some pretty intense issues. She shares stories of the youth we work with at Covenant House, youth who are homeless or trafficked. She’s talking about what they’ve been through, what they are doing now and how they’ve told us many times, “I wish I’d known the signs,” or “I wish I’d understood my options.”
The students hang on her every word. At the end of the presentations, hands shoot up. With natural curiosity, and sometimes seeking support themselves, students are eager to know more.
As one grade 10 student shared, “The presentation changed my perspective completely.”
Another grade 12 student said, “I liked how real it felt. Like it was from the heart.”
Since 1987, our small-but-mighty team of educators have been going out into schools and presenting to students. The program has reached more than 575,000 students, and that’s not counting the classmates, friends and family members who hear the information later, shared at recess or over the dinner table.
We offer three different presentations. One details the paths to homelessness, another talks about the realities of living on the street and a third shares the warning signs of sex trafficking. All three equip young people with tangible ways to learn more, ask for help or be part of the solution.
Teachers, guidance counsellors, school social workers and principals book the presentations, wanting to keep students aware and safe. In the words of one teacher: “This is happening in our neighbourhoods and our students need to know about it.”
As another educator shared, "This presentation brought forward concerns for a student that are now being addressed. They may have remained quiet without the information from Covenant House. Thank you for bringing these important issues to light."
Covenant House offers free awareness and prevention presentations to students from grades 6 to 12. To learn more or book a presentation, click here.