Holidays spent learning about homelessness

July 16, 2015 by Jess Osie
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Not all kids spend their school holidays on the couch or with their iPads…a group of 12-13 year olds participated in a Stand Up holiday program to learn about homelessness in Sydney. 


At the Ozanam Centre

The social justice organisation, whose focus is Jewish commitment to a better world, took ten high-schoolers and parents through the streets of Woollomooloo, where they learnt about the camaraderie and inclusivity of Sydney’s homeless population.

Visiting places like the Ozanam Learning Centre, the Matthew Talbot Hostel, “the participants were all taken aback to learn that 25% of homeless people in Australia are under the age of 16″, says Stand Up Education Coordinator Jessica Osie. The students gained new insights on their school holidays as had the opportunity to reflect on how fortunate they were to have a roof over their head every night, something often taken for granted.

The excursion is part of a wider initiative by the Stand Up ABC program that highlights social issues. Around 70 students participate in the eight- week program in NSW and benefit greatly from various excursions and outings linked to their learning.
‘We want participants to expose themselves to social issues including uneven wealth distribution, poverty and human rights, and be proactive members on their communities. The students are not just there to learn facts and figures, rather they learn about the impact they can make personally, despite what people may think they are capable of at that age”, continued Osie.

Learning about homelessness

Learning about homelessness

Tara Linker 11, is at Rose Bay Public and Noah Linker, 14 is at Emanuel School. They are both Stand Up ABC Alumni. Tara described the program as “an amazing experience. I had never realised the number of homeless people living all around this area. It made me understand that homeless people are the same as me – just not as privileged”. Noah adds, “In the area where we walked around there are about 100 people sleeping rough each night, even in the freezing cold winter weather. It made me realise how lucky I am to have a warm bed and a roof over my head.”
Stand Up ABC is run four times a year, and is designed to coincide with the participants’ bar and bat mitzvahs.

“The timing is so that they can understand what it means to be a responsible person not just in the eyes of their religion, but how they can be responsible as global citizens,” says ABC coordinator Avia Madar.

ABC alumni have gone on to orchestrate toy drives at their schools, make handmade blankets for new mums out of recycles fabrics. Many teach their parents are thing or two about how to buy groceries in a more ethical way after learning about fair trade and ethical products.

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