Leah Henrickson

Change calls for action. That’s why hundreds of people will lace up their sneakers on Saturday, November 12 and literally take steps toward change by participating in the Covenant House Step Up for Street Kids 5K walk, an event that raises money and awareness in support of homeless youth.

Why walk the walk? The 2,000 or so kids who sleep on Toronto’s streets are 2,000 or so good reasons. And last year, about 4,000 kids found shelter and support at Covenant House, an organization that relies on donors for more than 80% of its $18.8-million operating budget. Covenant House provides 24/7 crisis care 365 days a year, as well as services like education, health care, counselling, and employment assistance.

Kids who make it out there are the lucky ones. The street is a perilous place for young people, many of whom are desperate and alone after fleeing or being forced from homes where they’ve experienced abuse or neglect. Sometimes kids just fall in with the wrong crowd and end up trapped in a cycle of substance abuse and crime.

Just about anyone can wind up on the street. Homeless youth come from every part of the country and every background. About half come from middle- and upper-class homes – like Michelle, the leader of the Covenant House Step Up team. Michelle is a former resident who was able to turn her life around because of the support she received at Covenant House.

Michelle grew up in the GTA, got good grades, and didn’t get into trouble until she got to high school, where she met a new crowd and started using drugs. Once she was hooked, Michelle began to steal from her family to get her fix. She shares more about her story here.

Thankfully, Michelle found her way to Covenant House, where she spent a year getting back on track. Now she’s a college graduate looking for work in community support services. Michelle is dedicated to supporting the people and the place that helped her find her way through troubled times.

If you can’t walk the walk this year, you can still step up by sponsoring Michelle and her team. The event takes place on Saturday, November 12 at 3pm at Yonge and Dundas Square. For more information, check out http://www.covenanthouse.ca/walk or visit Covenant House on Facebook and Twitter.

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