By Jo-El Wadsworth
At its most elemental, homelessness is about inadequate housing, insufficient income, and a lack of appropriate social supports. For many of the children who come to Scottie’s Place, homelessness entails a life of extreme poverty, frequent bouts of hunger, greater risk of illness or injury, and the ever-present threat of violence in their homes, neighborhoods and schools.
For the children who come to Scottie’s Place it means lying to their friends about their personal circumstances, living in a car, shack or shelter; it means not having enough money to play sports or purchase hygiene supplies. Sometimes it means that the child manages the family, while the parent succumbs to the demands of their stressful life. It means that many of the children of Scottie’s Place know too much about drug and alcohol addiction, prison time, sex. Many have been in foster care, many have been abused – sexually, physically and emotionally.
Experiencing homelessness affects children at the deepest core of their being and elicits feelings of fear, anger, and shame. The programs at Scottie’s Place are designed to be both challenging and nurturing in order to bring healing and renewed strength to children whose lives are in turmoil. At Scottie’s Place, programs focus on personal growth and healthy relationships, conflict resolution and effective communication, environmental awareness and social responsibility. Children experience the thrill of navigating a canoe through the rapids, the challenge of exploring the mountain trails, the excitement of wilderness adventure games. They are able to run, play, laugh and make new friends in a safe and healthy outdoor environment. At Scottie’s Place, the wilderness gives children a new vision of a healthy and bountiful world, a sense of belonging, and a greater perspective on the possibilities in their lives.