In 2007, November was officially declared as National Homeless Youth and Runaway Awareness Month. In continued support of the month, Lawton Public Schools’ (LPS) McKinney-Vento program seeks to raise both awareness and donations for homeless youth in the Lawton Fort Sill community.
Andrea Winstead, the McKinney-Vento/Foster Care Liaison for Lawton Public Schools, shared some information regarding the program.
“The McKinney-Vento Program is an educational program based on federal law to ensure the educational rights of children and youth living in homeless situations,” Winstead said. “We have three mentors in secondary schools who meet on a regular basis individually with students to support attendance, grades, or just daily needs.”
Several events with community partners have taken place this month which highlight the importance of taking care of those who may be stricken with homelessness.
Cameron University dedicated the first men’s and women’s home basketball game to National Homeless Youth and Runaway Awareness Month, in addition to the CU Student Athlete Advisory Committee collecting donations for students involved in the McKinney-Vento program.
Donations for the program included beanies, earbuds, hygiene items, and refillable water bottles. The donation event was organized by Cameron senior and founder of S212 – an organization to advocate for homeless youth in Lawton, Spencer Brown.
Additionally, students from MacArthur High School (MHS) had the opportunity to attend the Lawton City Council meeting on Nov. 16, when the mayor read the proclamation that the third week of November be recognized as “Lime Out Lawton” – a week surrounding the staple color of the nationally recognized month.
The definition of "homeless" in regards to educational rights is very broad and includes "any student who lacks a fixed, adequate and regular nighttime residence.” This includes students sharing housing in doubled up living situations — with their family or alone due to loss of housing or economic hardship, students in motels because they don't have a place to go, students in substandard housing — such as no running water or electricity.
“The goal of the program is to ensure that through education, a homeless student will never be a homeless adult,” Winstead said.
For more information about the LPS McKinney-Vento program, please contact Andrea Winstead at email@example.com.
Photos below are of community partners and donations.