November is National Youth Runaway Prevention Month, and one local man is going to do all that he can to raise awareness.
Kyle Wales was approached by Youth Services and Chiselbox to help spread the word for the upcoming Wheeling Sleep Out, an annual event to raise community support and funds for Homeless Youth in the Ohio Valley.
Kyle Wales is the all-American boy from a tight-knit family, but he is passionate about the homeless people hiding out on our streets everyday.
As an Americorps VISTA worker, he already assists people living in poverty.
And for his latest project, he will do more than just help.
“There’s a lot of young people that are my age who are dealing with this and it shouldn’t be that way,” said Wales.
Kyle will be living as if he is homeless for four days.
He will carry no wallet, money, or food.
He will sleep under bridges, in shelters, and will end his journey in a cardboard box at the Wheeling Sleep Out.
In order to understand how some are living in a cold, dark place, Kyle said he needs to experience it.
“I’m not even taking my license with me. I’m going to have it all in my car and I’m just going to have my phone. I mean if I find change on the ground that will be great but that’s about it,” Wales added.
His goal is to keep his project as authentic as possible.
His eyes lit up when he told me he is excited to interact with the homeless in the Ohio Valley, and to better understand why people end up on the streets.
“But if you put somebody like Kyle, who looks like the all-american boy who comes from a great family structure and you put him in that situation I think that you have a really good shot of–suddenly it could be your child in that situation,” said Nathan Blake, Part Owner of Chiselbox.
In the end, he hopes to learn something about himself, and teaches our community that homelessness can happen to anyone.
After living with the homeless, he said he will appreciate the roof above his head that much more.
“Knowing that you have no place to go, and that’s going to be the one thing that’s really going to be hard for me because I have a really strong family and you know that’s one of the reasons I am who I am and I can’t imagine not having that,” said Wales.
If you want to do your part to help end homelessness, put yourself in their shoes for one night and participate in the SleepOut.
Or you can donate.
Information can be found at Wheelingsleepout.org