By Youth and Family Services YMCA
Youth and Family Services YMCA staff shared stories of local runaway and homeless youth who suffered abandonment and abuse, as well as how they found healing and a home during a candlelight vigil held Nov. 4 in De La Guerra Plaza.
About two dozen people came together to raise awareness of the local and national tragedy of runaway and homeless youth, joining many across the nation who are speaking up during National Runaway Prevention Month this November.
“We’re shining a light on something that’s been hidden in the darkness far too long,” said James Carlson, a clinical supervisor at Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter, run by Youth and Family Services YMCA.
Between 1.6 and 2.8 million young people run away 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.
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. Runaway and homeless youth come from every life circumstance. 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.
James Carlson, a clinical supervisor with Youth and Family Services YMCA, speaks to vigil attendees about the struggles of runaway and homeless youth and how to be a part of the solution.