Students busk in subways for homeless youth

Schools across the city took over subway stations on Feb. 11, singing, dancing and collecting TTC tokens for Toronto’s Tokens4Change event.

Tokens were collected for Youth Without Shelter to help homeless youth get around the city for school, doctor appointments and job interviews.

“One third of youth are homeless and people don’t realize it,” organizer Scott Parish said.

Parish emphasized the importance of youth being involved with the event since it addressed the homeless problem among youth.

At the Yonge and Bloor station, Natasha Brault and her Grade 10 drama class from Etobicoke School of the Arts received positive responses during their dramatic performances.

“We had a lot of people stop and ask, ‘What’s going on?’ and ‘That looks cool,’ ” Brault said. “The kids are much more successful at getting people’s attention.”

Sixty-five thousand young people are homeless in Canada, according to YWS figures.

“Since this event is in its first year, you can only imagine what it’s going to be like (in the future),” Parish said.

Student Colin Brown-Heart from the Etobicoke School of the Arts showed signs created his group that featured facts about homeless youth. The sign he carried read, “During my sister’s depression my parents forgot about me.”

Other performers read dramatic poems aloud, making busy subway goers stop, stare and donate.

The goal of the event is not only to raise tokens for youth homeless, but also to make people aware of youth homelessness.

“It definitely generates a lot of support,” said Daniel Chapman-Smith, director of events for Project Humanity. “[The event] is making a bit more noise than the average person shaking a can.”

YWS aimed to collect over 5,000 tokens.

“We’re doing it in a way that’s fun and playful — makes people enjoy the experience,” Chapman-Smith said.

Tokens4Change comes days before the release of the documentary The Middle Place put on by Project Humanity, an organization that raises awareness of social issues through arts. It follows the lives of youth living in shelters and premiered at Canadian Stage on Feb. 14.

Observer Radio News: Schools across the city took over subway stations last week. Students sang, danced and collected TTC tokens. It was for a charity event called Tokens4Change.

The tokens will help homeless young people travel for free to get to school, doctors appointments and job interviews.

Observer Radio News reporter Jessica Moy has more.