Scott: Bundled up in blankets, cramped together on cardboard and sleeping outside in the cold. These teens are all part of what is called Project Empathy. And it is a reality check on just what it is like to be homeless.
Brianna Vinson: I know how they feel now.
Michael Smat: I feel hungry and I feel really tired.
Scott: One hundred and forty 7th and 8th grade students at All Saints Episcopal School in Fort Worth, Texas came up with this unusual learning project.
Leslie Adams: We wanted to get away from just collecting money and making sandwiches. We really wanted them to understand the issues in front of them.
Scott: First, the students pretended to be families, balancing bills and mortgages. It wasn’t long before some of them ran out of money and realized they would end up on the streets.
It is a crisis that is hitting families hard, especially young people. According to the latest numbers, nearly 40% of America’s homeless population are now children. That is almost 1.6 million kids right here in this country who don’t have a place to live.
In Fort Worth, Part 2 of this lesson on homelessness meant finding a place to sleep outside. With weather that felt like 21-degrees, some students said all they could think about was a warm bed the next night.
Brianna: You know, I thought – and I was like, at least I have a sleeping bag. There are probably people out there who don’t even have a sleeping bag.
Scott: The students’ Project Empathy did more than just open their eyes. The students also managed to raise more than a thousand dollars and collect more than a hundred blankets for the homeless.
Michael: Every time I see a homeless man, I’m going to realize that they probably have a job too, and they’re probably trying their hardest to strive and live. And it’s not easy.
Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.