SINGAPORE – December 11, 2019 – Stamford American International School – Sleeping Out in Solidarity. To raise awareness of homelessness and the refugee predicament worldwide, a pioneering group comprising of 16 Grade 11 and 12 students as well as 4 teachers took part in their first ever Sleep Out on school premises as part of The World’s Big Sleep Out.
The World’s Big Sleep Out is now an annual global event to help raise awareness and funds to help the world’s homeless and displaced. The Sleep Out was held across 52 cities, with over 50,000 people taking part. Even celebrities such as Will Smith and Dame Helen Mirren read bedtime stories to participants who braved the winter weather to sleep on the street in New York and London respectively.
The Stamford students participated as part of the Creativity, Activity and Service Program (CAS). CAS is one of the three essential elements that every student must complete as part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
Stamford’s CAS Coordinator Ms. Sharon Newman, who organised the Stamford event, said, “The students all volunteered their day and night to help bring attention to what is a worldwide epidemic. I’m really proud of our students who made a choice to get involved by sleeping out in solidarity with those who have no choice where they sleep at night.
We know that research by the Institute of Global Homelessness shows that figures have reached a new level with more than a 100 million people homeless and displaced around the world. In New York alone, more people are now homeless than at any time since the Great Depression, and the number of homeless people and refugees in cities around the world continues to hit record highs with each passing year.”
After setting up ‘camp’ on the school tennis courts, the Stamford students settled in to what was an uncomfortable insight into what it was like to sleep in the open.
One of the participating students, Veera, said “Although we didn’t experience homelessness to its full extent it was confronting to experience even just a part of it. I’m very grateful for the luxuries I have which seem normal to us like beds and showers.”
Another Sleep Out student, Phillipa, said participating in the event really challenged her perceptions of homelessness. “When I was 10, I saw a girl about my own age outside a restaurant begging for money but also using the light of the restaurant to finish her homework. Last night I had a small look into what she experienced every single day. But the difference is, I was safe and I had the option of just going back inside. I’m very grateful for this experience as I now have a much clearer understanding of what homelessness is really like.”
In addition to participating in the sleepout the students also volunteered their time to run events at the Stamford’s annual Winter Wonderland festival, held on the evening of the sleepout. Students sold hot chocolate gift bags and ran a virtual reality experience called “Becoming Homeless” designed by Stanford University students.