Project Green Light Raises Awareness Of Homeless Youth

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Dozens of people are expected to sport bright green socks Thursday in a show of support for the 2.8 million teens that run away from home every year. 

Last year, there were more than 30,000 homeless children in Ohio according to the non-profit youth developement organization, Sojourners.

The bright green socks are part of Project Green Light that serves as a spotlight for National Runaway Prevention month.

Here in southeastern Ohio, Sojourners leads the fight against youth homelessness.

“Everyone at Sojourners and all of our friends and our partners all are wearing bright green socks,” Sojourners’ Director of Communications Shelly Horvath said.  “The idea is when someone says, 'Why are you wearing bright green socks?’, you can say, ‘I’m wearing them because I support runaway homeless youths.’”

Horvath said because youth homelessness is not really a visible problem most people don’t understand the circumstances surrounding the issue.

“They tend to be what we call couch hoppers,” she said.  “They move from one friend’s house to another friend’s house and they’re homeless.  That lifestyle is very precarious because they can become subject to sexual exploitation, alcohol and drug use, that kind of thing.”

Sojourners' is sponsoring a number of events in Athens, Jackson, Ross, and Vinton counties.

The "Exposing the Numbers" exhibits will be placed in county schools, government offices, and other community locations during the month.

In Athens County the exhibit will be placed in places like Alexander High School, Trimble High School, and the Athens/Meigs Educational Service Center.

The exhibit feature boxes of different sizes with statistics about young people who run away.

"Boxes are used because kids on the street often find shelter in cardboard boxes,"  Horvath said.  "It's a striking, visual way of getting this information out to the community."

Sojourners will also be hosting an awareness walk November 5 in Athens.

“We really encourage the community to come out,” Horvath said.  “You know even if it’s a little cold just remember that when it’s this could we have kids out sleeping in parks.”

The walk will start and send at the Athens County Courthouse.