150+ STUDENTS SLEEP OUTSIDE TO HELP HOMELESS

- Tent City event raises awareness and funding for ShareLife agencies -

CALEDON, ON, May 26 /CNW/ - More than 150 high school students will gather in Caledon, Ont. today for the first annual Tent City, a fundraising and awareness-raising event conducted in support of those facing poverty and homelessness in our community.

Tent City will bring together student leaders from 12 Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board secondary schools in an evening designed to give them first-hand exposure to and experience with issues related to homelessness. Gathering at the Mount Alverno Spiritual Centre in Caledon, the students will participate in workshops and a prayer service, hear a guest speaker from Covenant House, share a "poverty" meal of soup and bread, and spend the night sleeping outside in tents.

"Homelessness is a significant and complicated issue in our community - it needs to be understood and addressed," said Angelo Minardi, chaplaincy leader at Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School and one of the key organizers of the initiative. "As part of their education, our students are called to live out their Catholic faith in tangible ways. Tent City allows them to do this in a manner that is meaningful for them and, through their fundraising, is meaningful for the greater community as well."

As part of the exercise, students had to register and attend orientation sessions related to poverty and homelessness. They were also required to create a school-wide charitable fundraising project to raise student awareness of these issues. The funds they collect will be directed toward ShareLife social service agencies that directly address homelessness and poverty.

"It's inspiring that so many young people are dedicating themselves to community service in such a creative way," said ShareLife Schools and Employee Campaigns Coordinator Tim Lee Loy. "With estimates as high as 11,000 homeless people living in Brampton and Mississauga alone in one year, the problem is very real and all around us. Tent City demonstrates that these students want to be part of the solution. We're proud that ShareLife can be involved in Tent City, both as an organizer and as a recipient of the students' generosity."

In the regular course of their studies at all levels of their education, DPCDSB students explore issues related to social service and social justice. These lessons often extend into extracurricular activities such as community service, charitable fundraising and public speaking presentations. Aligned with their Catholic faith, such activities are designed to nurture leadership and service skills for students, to raise sensitivity and awareness around social issues and to promote their participation in social service activities.

Tent City 2011 was inspired by a similar event organized last year at Minardi's school. When other school chaplains learned about the initiative, they felt it had the makings of something much bigger. Working in cooperation with ShareLife and the Office of Catholic Youth, DPCDSB chaplains and student leaders expanded the concept to create this school board-wide program.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board is one of largest and most diverse school districts in Ontario, with approximately 87,000 students in 145 Catholic schools throughout Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon and Orangeville.

ShareLife, the annual fundraising appeal of the Archdiocese of Toronto, raises in excess of $14 million annually to help fund a network of local Catholic agencies, reaching more than 250,000 people locally and countless more around the world.

NOTE: In the interest of safety and security for the students, all media outlets interested in attending the event must register prior to entering the grounds at Mount Alverno.

SOURCE ShareLife

For further information: Bill Steinburg, Communications Manager, ShareLife, (416) 934-3400 ext. 55, (416)708-9655, bills@archtoronto.org; Julia Seeratan, Communications Officer - DPCDSB, (905) 890-0708 ext 24278, julia.seeratan@dpcdsb.org

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