‘Eye-opening experience’: High school students spend the night outside – Montreal

Students from Selwyn House School spent the night outside in sleeping bags to raise awareness and gain an understanding of the realities of being unhoused.

Up before dawn Wednesday morning, 27 students and staff awoke with aches and pains after a cold night out under the stars lying on concrete.

“When I woke up, I started shivering and I kept waking up. I couldn’t get the good sleep I usually get at home,” said Grade 9 student Spencer Roiter.

“I’m definitely grateful for having a roof over my head and my bed,” said Grade 12 student Lambros Papadopoulos.

Students got an out-of-class lesson taking part in the annual 24 Hours for the Unhoused project.

“We got to experience it first hand. It creates awareness and we feel empathy and compassion for those less fortunate,” Roiter said.

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Students also got their hands dirty making sandwiches, partnering up with Bread and Beyond and local non-profit, Dans La Rue.

“We made about 600 sandwiches and I found that very impactful. We were learning while giving at the same time,” Roiter said.

This year students fundraised $2,000 for local organizations.

While the physical act is impactful, testimonials from the people who have truly experienced homelessness leave a larger mark on students, according to Cécile Arbaud, executive director of Dans La Rue.

“It gives a good and better sense that poverty can touch everyone’s life and every part of their life,” Arbaud said.

Teacher David Grier, organizer of the event, said students walk away with a first-hand account and a better awareness of homelessness.

“What happens when they leave here? They go out into the city and they see people who are a little less lucky,” Grier said. “They have this sense of wanting to help and kindness.”

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