Henrico County VA

Training for homeless youth featured at workshop

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Participants in a youth homelessness workshop and training session discuss the issue in a breakout session.
In a first-of-its-kind event in the area, two local organizations last week hosted a workshop and training session for service providers and others who deal with youth homelessness.

Advocates for Richmond Youth organized the event, which took place on June 23 at the Bon Air Methodist Church, and St. Joseph's Villa assisted. The goal of the event was to expose service providers to the reality of youth homelessness and teach them how to access the resources they need to help affected children. It featured representatives from 65 different service providers throughout the state and some from elsewhere in the nation.

After an initial introductory gathering, providers broke down into smaller groups and rotated around to different stations to learn more about the opportunities for homeless youth and how to best assist them.

Some topics of discussion during the group information sessions included applying for federal grants and dealing with unsure housing.
Alex Wagaman (left) and Tiffany Hayes
take part in a group discussion on
youth homelessness at the Bon Air
Methodist Church June 23.

Alex Wagaman, an assistant professor at the VCU School of Social Work who leads Advocates for Richmond Youth, has been working with homeless youth through her organization for two years. She told the Citizen that she was very happy about how the training session went. Although she worked hard to organize the event, she emphasized that it was her team of young people who made the workshop a success.

The organization wanted to create a forum that exclusively highlighted those who have actually experienced homelessness.

“Young people's voices are centered and really at the forefront of our decision making around how to address youth homelessness,” Wagaman said. “We are an advocacy group, so what we hope is that we’re inspiring other folks to promote learning and teaching in their own organizations.”

The event was important because it allowed the voices of homeless youth to be heard and allowed service providers to better understand the people they are helping, according to Kimberly Tucker, who is in charge of housing and homeless services for St. Joseph's VIlla.

“We would like to create a continuum of services for homeless youth,” Tucker told the Citizen.

One of the youth organizers of the event, Jasmine Lange, expressed hope that the event could turn into an annual one. She and emphasized how much Advocates for Richmond Youth has grown in the past couple years.

For details about the group and event, visit http://www.rampages.us/advocatesforrichmondyouth/
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