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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Life Issues > Health > Spotlight Nonprofit: Standing up for homeless and street kids

Spotlight Nonprofit: Standing up for homeless and street kids

LatinaLista — It’s reported that 1.5 million children are homeless in this country. Thirteen kids die on the street every day from abuse, disease and suicide. Kids are running away at the rate of one every minute. In every classroom of thirty-five kids, seven of them will run away before they are eighteen.

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Children who live on the streets either by choice or circumstance (90 percent of kids who leave home do so because of abuse) have one thing in common — they feel like they’re all alone in the world.

Given the current state of the economy and the stress it’s putting on families, it’s a reasonable assumption to believe that the number of kids on the street will continue to grow.

Yet, as anyone knows, living on the streets is dangerous, especially for young people. There is one organization that has made it its mission to find the “street kids” and show them that somebody does care about them.

StandUp for Kids is a national organization based in Atlanta, Georgia with a single focus:

To find, stabilize and otherwise help street kids improve their lives.

Relying almost entirely on the generous time offered by over 5,000 volunteers across the country in 30 cities, StandUp for Kids performs street outreach that goes into the streets and brings the young people it finds into a safe environment.

The organization also operates various programs both in schools and online to teach young people how to remove themselves from abusive situations without resorting to running away.

“We know first hand that once on the streets, young people are at even higher risk of being physically and/or sexually victimized, of self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to reduce emotional pain,” Rick Koca, founder of StandUp for Kids, said. “Some even attempt suicide and often engage in acts of “survival” sex to meet their need for food, shelter, and clothing.

“… For many, the act of “running away” has become a “crash” of unbelievable proportions, such that recovery from the streets will take months and in some cases years. Our goal is to reach the kids, before they reach that point!”

Though the organization relies on volunteers to help with the street kids, those who want to do street outreach must take sixteen hours of training to prepare them for what they will encounter with the kids on the streets.

StandUp for Kids also uses apartment support counselors whose job it is to take the kids rescued from the streets and teach them how to live, not just survive. They teach the teens social skills and how to live in a community.

The plight of homeless kids is beginning to attract attention even from celebrities. Singer LeAnn Rimes recently filmed a music video with some children who were homeless.

LeAnn Rimes got extremely emotional on the set of her video shoot for her new single “Give” after meeting and hearing the touching story of a particular homeless boy, who stars with her in the video.

She tweeted: “That’s a wrap on a very moving video shoot! I’m blessed to have experienced these kids. They have truly changed my life!!!!!! The kids said it’s the best time they’ve had all year! That’s such a compliment. What a joyful day! They all sang w/ (with) me! It’s for my video for ‘Give’ and we are raising awareness for standupforkids.org and children’s homelessness in America.”

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