Presenter: Jonathan Roberts
Location: Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work Room 250
Each night in Oklahoma City, there is a ritual that occurs for our city’s runaway and homeless youth: the search for a safe place to sleep for the night. They seek refuge under the bridges and overpasses we travel across every day. They break into abandoned cars in dark parking lots to catch a few minutes of sleep trying to avoid contact with anyone in a uniform. They use cardboard and old blankets to provide some padding for the hard floors of the condemned buildings in which they sleep. They go to sleep with empty stomachs, lost
dreams and no hope.
The presenter will discuss strategies for engaging runaway and homeless youth to identify needs and barriers to accessing housing and support services. He will present a model of service delivery that meets the unique needs of transition age youth, ages 14 to 24; particularly those that are surviving on the streets.
Guest youth will share their experiences of transitioning from street homelessness to safe and supportive environments. They will discuss their struggles with mental health, substance use, educational difficulties and employment barriers and how they addressed those struggles by accessing street based support services.
Johnathan Roberts is the founder and Executive Director for Be The Change, an Oklahoma City based non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring people to connect with our marginalized neighbors through service and advocacy, working together to build and sustain healthy communities. Mr. Roberts has worked in the non-profit arena in Oklahoma City for over 20 years, in the areas of developmental disabilities, mental health and homeless services. Under his direction, Be The Change facilitates an LGBT youth group and operates a drop-in center for runaway and homeless youth in the Oklahoma City area. These programs connect marginalized youth with sustainable housing and the vital support services they need to become valued and productive member of the Oklahoma City community.
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