Why Helena May is Sleeping Outside
I am sleeping outside in solidarity for youth that are still on the streets, like I was 5 years ago.
Here’s a bit of my story:
My parents both had difficult time with their own lives, and us four kids weren’t always in their care. As the oldest, I had a lot of responsibility helping parent my young younger siblings, and it all took a toll.
I started using drugs when I was 14. My mom and I fought a lot and I started to get involved with the wrong people. My house was not a safe place and my nana’s house was not somewhere where I could use drugs, so I ended up on the streets.
One day, a youth worker saw my shoes were completely falling apart. I needed food, shelter and recovery. She brought me to MY House, an amazing resource through Youth Unlimited, for some new shoes and a hot meal. My life began to completely turn around.
I genuinely love people, so I started spreading the word to others in my position, encouraging them to visit the youth house too. It is important for people to realize how big of an issue youth homelessness and addiction really is. I pledge to continue to be an ally and an advocate for the people who are living through it today.
It took me six years to graduate high school. During that time, I was running weekly meetings in the basement of the youth house, attending rehab when I would relapse, taking action in the community and in schools and applying to government funded programs to help me secure a job. I finally made it.
Today, I am living in Vancouver and working as an Educational Assistant. Most of the positive change in my life has happened in the past year. I am sharing my story and sleeping out on November 19 to inspire other youth, like me, and to remind them they are not alone.