As part of BC’s Homelessness Action Week (HAW) (Oct 8 to 12) the public is invited to a free Public Forum on At-Risk and Homeless Youth on WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 10 AT 5PM at the Adventure Hotel Ballroom with Guest Speaker Katherine McParland. McParland is Executive Director and Founder of A Way Home Kamloops.  A Way Home is a name and approach to support at-risk and homelessness youth that has caught on in name and style across the country and internationally, embraced by Canada’s National Coalition to End Homelessness and by A Way Home America and A Way Home Scotland.

One Kamloops City Councillor said of McParland “…she has turned the concept of homeless youth on its head. She has inspired landlords, business owners, the university and provincial, municipal and federal governments to open their eyes to the financial and social cost of ignoring homeless youth.”

Tim Mushumanski, Honourary Chair for Nelson’s Homelessness Action Week this year, found the number of high school students who didn’t have stable homes surprising and concerning over his 8.5 years as a Vice-Principal of LV Rogers.  This year, the Nelson Committee on Homelessness (NCOH) found that 60% of the homeless people counted in Nelson in April had their first homeless experience before they turned 19.  Bringing the supports needed to youths at-risk and their families could save lifetimes of poverty and social costs.

That’s why the public is invited to an engaging evening to explore what we can do as a community.

It’s no surprise that Guest Speaker McParland has a passion for the cause.  She was raised in numerous foster homes in her childhood and upon aging out of Care, lived through several experiences of homelessness until she landed in the right place, with enough supports to make a difference in her life.

One of fewer than half of youth in care to graduate high school in British Columbia at the time, McParland went on to university for a human service diploma program, and then to earn a social work degree.  She has been appointed to the national Advisory Committee on Homelessness and as a Commissioner with BC Housing.  She is Co-Chair of the BC Coalition to End Youth Homelessness and is working with the BC Representative for Children and Families organizing youth forums throughout the province to hear first-hand from homeless and at-risk youth about their situations, to ensure youth voice is heard in the development of a provincial plan to end youth homelessness.

The public forum will hear from local youths and service providers about paths into and out of homelessness and what services are being offered and will discuss what challenges they are facing and what might help.  Youth from the BC Coalition to End Youth Homelessness, as well as the Nelson and District Youth Centre, Nelson Community Youth Services, Selkirk Students’ Union, Freedom Quest Youth Services, Circle of Indigenous Nations, Nelson CARES, Salvation Army, Our Daily Bread, MCFD Regional Indigenous Youth Intern and Honourary Homelessness Action Week Chair Tim Mushumanski have all contributed to the planning of this event.

Seating is limited. Please RSVP to ncoh@nelsoncares.ca or call 250-352-6011 Ext 5266 to reserve a light dinner at the forum.