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ADDRESSING A “SILENT CRISIS” – YO! & NATIONAL RUNAWAY PREVENTION MONTH

For nearly three decades, Hale Kipa and Waikiki Health have provided service to homeless, runaway and street-identified youth and young adults on Oahu through the Youth Outreach (YO!) program.

During National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM) in November, Hale Kipa is working to raise awareness of YO! services and the issues facing runaway youth throughout Hawaii.

Hale Kipa has partnered with the City & County of Honolulu to recognize the NRPM’s Green Light Project. NRPM is symbolized by the color green, and green lights will be displayed at the front of Honolulu Hale from November 8-14. The Mayor’s Office will also issue a proclamation in support of NRPM at a ceremony with Hale Kipa and Waikiki Health staff during November.

Hale Kipa’s YO! program made 2,000 total contacts with at-risk youth and young adults in its outreach services from January-July 2017, and had 2,800 total drop-in visits during that time to its Waikiki Drop-In Center.

Alika Campbell, who has worked at Hale Kipa since 1997 and is the coordinator of the Youth Outreach and Transitional Living Programs, says that while many visits to YO! are to meet basic needs like meals, showering, washing clothes or addressing a health issue, social connections are among the most important.

“The social piece is strong, and you still have that need for social belonging even if you have run away or are homeless,” he said. “For some of our clients, this is the closest they have to family, and they come back and check in. That is a big piece of what YO! accomplishes, especially if you are on the run or alone and scared. We are that stable, steady resource.”

Under a grant with the Susannah Wesley Community Center, YO! has recently strengthened its outreach to youth and young adults who may be at risk for commercial sexual exploitation or human trafficking.

Between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away in the U.S. each year, according to the nonprofit National Runaway Safeline, which organizes National Runaway Prevention Month. If all of these young people lived in one city, it would be the fifth largest city in the country.

NRPM has been recognized since 2002. The goals are two-fold: To raise awareness of the runaway and homeless youth crisis and the issues that these young people face; and to educate the public about solutions and the role they can play in ending youth homelessness.

The theme of NRPM 2017 is “Friends Helping Friends.” We encourage you to join us in “Wear Green Day” on Wednesday, November 8, and share a photo with the hashtag #NRPM2017.

The National Runaway Safeline offers a 1-800-RUNAWAY hotline and online services via 1800RUNAWAY.org.


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