Dozens sleep out in cold to raise awareness for Utah’s homeless youth

Mar 2, 2018, 10:52 PM | Updated: Mar 6, 2018, 2:03 pm

OGDEN- On a thin piece of cardboard and under a blanket or sleeping bag is how dozens in Ogden slept Friday night.

The group was part of #UTSleepOut2018, an event where participants willingly sleep on the cold concrete, in freezing temperatures to raise awareness for the state’s homeless youth and also funds for the Youth Futures Shelter Home. 

“I can’t imagine facing this night after night, you know, it must be so hard and so daunting,” participant Sara Day said. 

Day and a group of friends prepared weeks in advance for the overnight trip. She said she couldn’t imagine continually experiencing these conditions as a teenager.

“I would not know what to do in this situation,” Day said. “I would not know where to go. I would not know how to take care of myself.”

Shelter employees said the situation for teens in the area and nationwide is alarming.

“Last year, we sheltered 74 youth and kept them off the streets,” said Justine Murray, Program Director for Youth Futures Shelter Home.

According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, a point-in-time count last year revealed nearly 230 youth experience homelessness in the state.

Murray estimated across the United States there are 5,000 homeless youth sleeping outside at least one night a year. 

“I want others to understand that this is a community problem, this is an Ogden problem, this is a Utah problem,” Murray said.

Murray hoped the event will not only raise funds but also put participants in homeless teens’ shoes.

“I don’t think people understand that like people are dying in this weather, it’s real, it’s happening, and so I think they will be very humbled,” Murray said.

By Friday night, Youth Futures Shelter Home had raised nearly $10,000.

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Dozens sleep out in cold to raise awareness for Utah’s homeless youth