Kingston was one of two communities (the other being Kamloops B.C.) to be selected to participate in a national pilot project called Mobilizing Local Capacity to End Youth Homelessness in Canada (MLC program). The facilitator of the MLC project in Kingston is the United Way of KFL&A, who worked with a steering committee and youth planning committee to develop an Action Plan. The Plan was developed to support a shared vision to end youth homelessness in Kingston and area and focuses on three goals:
- Establish a System of Care
- Establish an Integrated Homelessness Prevention Framework
- Housing Options Match Youths’ Transition to Adulthood
For each goal there is a list of action strategies and implementation steps. It has been identified that a comprehensive communications plan needs to be developed to support the goals and strategies of the Action Plan. The following three-pronged approach was adopted by the steering committee to achieve the communication goal of changing community attitudes positively.
- Targeted intervention for youth at risk/youth who are homeless
- Increase awareness of the issue of youth homelessness among students
- grade 7 and upwards, schools, educators and families
- Reduce stigma associated with youth homelessness among general public
The creative for the campaign was developed by BmDodo Strategic Design with Avenue Strategy that addresses the three target areas of: intervention, awareness building and reducing stigma.
The creative features youth who have experienced homelessness and have successfully obtained support from community organizations. They share their stories, the realities of what lead to homelessness and a sense that there is help and where those at risk may obtain support through the 211 helpline and the various programs, services and service delivery systems.
Through the many stories that will be told within this campaign the myths of youth homelessness and the causes are addressed providing opportunities for education, increased empathy and understanding among all intended audiences.
Some of the specific messages that can be conveyed include:
- youth homelessness in this community IS an issue
- the 5 key causes and challenges of homelessness: family conflict, mental health, addictions, education, employment and training
- defining homelessness, i.e., couch-surfing
The creative is illustrative to protect the privacy of the youth who are featured
but the stories are real.
The following communication vehicles were used:
- Bus wrap
- Posters and life sized cutouts in downtown areas, schools youth shelters, youth employment, doctors’ offices, library, downtown businesses, hospitals, pubic poster boards,
- Media release/story about campaign and increasing awareness and education of youth homelessness. Feature campaign stories
- Youth Out Loud facebook/twitter @YOLK
- Encourage attendance to Youth out Loud forum
- Video segments for school assemblies.
- YouTube videos
- School assemblies with youth from campaign as speakers
- Guidance Counselor program education event - employment, skills development, careers of the future, aspiration of youth
- Speaker from ad campaign at United Way events