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Thriving and surviving on the streets

 Megaphone (Canada) 03 June 2019

(Originally published: 08/2009) Many people are under the impression that living on the street is terrible. They have been led to believe that it is one of the worst things that can ever happen to a person. In actuality, the street can be a place to learn, meet new people and gain life experiences. But this is only true if the individual has the maturity and the sense of responsibility to look after themselves and make proper decisions. (360 words) - By Caitlin Glass

Megaphone

Courtesy of Megaphone

As I am very familiar with street life in Vancouver, this topic comes easily to me.  Many people are under the impression that living on the street is terrible. They have been led to believe that it is one of the worst things that can ever happen to a person. In actuality, the street can be a place to learn, meet new people and gain life experiences. But  this is only true if the individual has the maturity and the sense of responsibility to look after themselves and make proper decisions.

At the moment I have several friends who would be considered "homeless".

They have little or no money, and spend a good portion of their time at emergency weather shelters and food banks. Some of them have chosen the life of vagrancy, while others were forced into it.  All of them are happy with the way they live their lives.

In the summer, a number of us choose to spend our time in sleeping bags around a campfire. It's true that food can be hard to come by, but with a group of people working together, anything is possible.

There are many positive aspects to communally living on the street that are overlooked. However, the negative must are independent and unprepared may find themselves caught up in a world of prostitution, drugs and violence.

I have had friends end up in these situations as well, and not all of them made it out. Unless a person or, better yet, a group of people are able to work together at staying healthy and safe, the streets of Vancouver can be a very dangerous place.

When several people trust one another and are able to comfortably sleep and live in the outdoors, the streets can become almost magical. You learn to take care of yourself and others and will have an amazing experience to take with you for the rest of your life.  If more people were willing to take a closer look into life on the streets, they would see it for what it really is. They may even find that it's something they want to be a part of.

Caitlin Glass, 18, is an emerging Vancouver-based writer of fiction and creative non- fiction. She has completed high school and is now doing academic upgrading at Kiwassa Neighbourhood House, one of Vancouver's alternative adult education programs.

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