Source: Hannah Rael for Youth & Family Services YMCA
Between 1.6 and 2.8 million young people runaway every year in the United States. In the city of Santa Barbara, police receive nearly 150 calls for runaway and missing youth each year and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department receives more than 300 calls each year.
These young people are sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, friends, cousins and next door neighbors.
To remember these youth, Youth and Family Services YMCA will host a candlelight vigil from 5:30–6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5 in De La Guerra Plaza.
At the vigil, Youth and Family Services YMCA staff working with runaway and homeless youth in Santa Barbara will share stories of abandonment and abuse, as well as real-life examples of healing and finding a way home. The community is invited to join them in raising awareness for this important issue.
The theme of this year’s National Runaway Prevention Month is “More Than Meets the Eye.” This theme is designed to communicate the fact that runaway, homeless and other at-risk youth populations are more than these labels.
Runaway and homeless youth are whole people that come from every life circumstance and should be seen as such. Youth and Family Services YMCA urges the community to think about how to better recognize and serve runaway and homeless youth as multifaceted, whole people.
Most youth stay close to home and need safety for only a short period of time. Getting help lessens the chance of turning to dangerous situations to survive.
Youth and Family Services YMCA offers assistance to youth through Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter, providing temporary shelter for foster children, runaway, homeless and at-risk youth. The Y’s Support and Outreach Services also reaches out to youth living on the streets in Santa Barbara.
— Hannah Rael is a publicist representing Youth and Family Services YMCA.