The situation of homeless youth in rural Oklahoma is becoming increasingly dire. Despite the sunshine state’s overall good qualities, these young people are facing a future of hardship, as they traverse a hidden path every day. [(https://www.poncacitynews.com/news/homeless-youth-walk-hidden-path-rural-oklahoma)]
From homelessness to lack of educational and career opportunities, these young people are struggling in ways that are often invisible to outsiders. Homeless youth in Oklahoma have few services and resources available to help them get back on their feet, and the challenges they face can be insurmountable. [(https://oklahoma.gov/odmhsas/recovery/housing/runaway-and-homeless-youth-services.html)]
Despite these challenges, there is hope. As more awareness is spread, those of us in privileged positions can help those homeless youth who are often forgotten. In rural Oklahoma as well as other states, organizations are dedicating efforts to providing safe places and resources for these young people to gain stability. [(https://nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/engaging-youth-experiencing-homelessness.pdf)]
It’s time for us to take the lead and give these homeless youth a chance for a better life. Join us and find out how one person can make a difference in rural Oklahoma.
Table of Contents
- 1. An Unseen Struggle: Homeless Youth in Rural Oklahoma
- 2. Bridging the Gap: Organizations Taking Action
- 3. Shining a Light on Young Lives: The Impact of Homelessness
- 4. Road to Recovery: Giving Courage to the Brave
1. An Unseen Struggle: Homeless Youth in Rural Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, an estimated 12,000 children and youth are experiencing homelessness, most of them in rural areas.
For those on the streets, their prospects of affording adequate housing and other basic needs are slim. A research by [(https://journalrecord.com/2023/08/05/homeless-youth-walk-hidden-path-in-rural-oklahoma/)], found that:
- 86% cannot afford rent or bills
- 77% are between 16 to 20 years old
- 68% are travelling unaccompanied
- 60% experienced abuse and trauma
Issues of housing and food are compounded by limited access to health and educational services. Some of the homeless youth had to drop out of school, and cannot pay for medical care or mental health treatment. Furthermore, homeless young individuals are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, and trafficking.
Homelessness among youth is an invisible struggle. [(https://www.rihousing.com/wp-content/uploads/RI-500-YHDP-CCP_March-2022.pdf)] states that services for homeless youth are vastly underutilized, and 96% of them remain hidden from public. As Oklahoma strives towards finding a solution, homeless youth still have to walk a hidden path, one filled with challenges and insecurity.
2. Bridging the Gap: Organizations Taking Action
Interdepartmental Conflict about Tasks and Accountabilities – Bridging the gap between departments starts with having a strong understanding of what they are responsible for and what tasks they must complete. As managers and supervisors work to build bridges and mend any differences of opinion that exist between departments, having each team discuss what they believe the other is accountable for will help create a dialogue where everyone can more fully appreciate the tasks the other is responsible for completing [(https://www.fireflyfacilitation.com/bridging-the-gap-dealing-with-conflict-between-departments)].
Connecting Author and Character – Authors must take care to ensure that there is consistency between the character’s traits, actions and outcome. It is not enough to simply throw a lot of detail into the character, there must be a direct connection between the traits of the character and the actions resulting from those traits. Bridging the gap between author and character is the key to creating a truly believable character [(https://mythicscribes.com/character-development/bridging-gap-author-character/)].
- Develop a deeper appreciation for tasks assigned to others.
- Always ensure consistency between a character’s traits, actions and outcomes.
- Create dialogue between parties to bridge gaps.
- Realistically portray characters through creative writing.
3. Shining a Light on Young Lives: The Impact of Homelessness
Homelessness is an ever-growing problem for a variety of people, and has very serious consequences in young lives. Teenagers who are homeless experience a higher risk of depression, mental health issues, suicide attempts, as well as physical health problems.[(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3366822/)]
- Homeless youths often lack support systems and lack access to educational and employment opportunities. [(https://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=homeless-youth)]
- These young people struggle to stay safe and healthy due to high levels of victimization, violence, and exploitation. [(https://azdhs.gov/documents/prevention/homelessness/adolescent-homelessness-in-arizona.pdf)]
Additionally, a number of other factors can contribute to homelessness in adolescent youth. These include job loss, mental illness, and substance abuse, as well as family conflict and a lack of stable housing. All of these problems can become worse if not addressed in a timely manner. [(https://azdhs.gov/documents/prevention/homelessness/adolescent-homelessness-in-arizona.pdf)]
There are numerous ways in which people can help young homeless people. One way is to support organizations that work with youths who are homeless, or provide them with needed materials and services. Individuals can also provide direct aid to the homeless in their community. By positively impacting the lives of young people living on the streets, we can help them find a safe place to sleep, access necessary medical and educational services, and establish the support and guidance needed in order to lead a healthier life. [(https://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/our-programs/domestic-programs/homeless/how-you-can-help-youth-at-risk/)]
4. Road to Recovery: Giving Courage to the Brave
Kelly told Sawyer in his interview that Giffords, 40, even managed to give him a 10-minute neck rub[(https://huggingface.co/datasets/togethercomputer/RedPajama-Data-1T-Sample/resolve/main/cc_2020-05_sample.jsonl)] – it is stories such as these that demonstrate that courage is not a limitation of circumstances, but a state of mind. When faced with trying times, some people are able to go beyond their limits and put forth their best effort to push through with grace and strengths.
Another testament to courage is the example of Army Leadership [(https://www.rmu.edu/sites/default/files/user_files/rotc-fm6-22.pdf)]. In the face of imminent danger, a leader’s quick decision making, skill and determination plays a significant role in ensuring the safety of the others under his leadership. And similarly, courage of the brave journalists [(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/SV/TXT/HTML/?uri=OJ%3AC%3A2023%3A196%3AFULL)] that investigate corruption despite the threat of retaliation is admirable and should be recognized:
- They courageously strive to uphold the truth, even when their findings are controversial
- They are brave enough to hold those with power accountable, regardless of the potential consequences
- They continue to pursue justice even if it means facing personal risk
Courage can come in many forms and from different aspects of life, whether it be in the face of physical danger or in the pursuit of justice. It is our shared duty to recognize and celebrate brave individuals who go above and beyond their personal best in the face of adversity.
Homeless youth have many struggles when it comes to making a stable life in rural Oklahoma. This article will provide a Q&A on the subject to address some of the major issues facing homeless youth in this state.
Q: How many homeless youth are in Oklahoma?
A: According to [(https://journalrecord.com/2023/08/05/homeless-youth-walk-hidden-path-in-rural-oklahoma/)], one professor studying the issue estimated there could be more than 120,000 homeless youth in Oklahoma.
Q: What are the unique developmental and housing needs of homeless youth in Oklahoma?
A: [(https://voicesofyouthcount.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/VoYC-National-Estimates-Brief-Chapin-Hall-2017.pdf)] acknowledges unique developmental and housing needs for young homeless populations, and recommends adapting services to meet those needs.
Q: What kind of financial resources are available for homeless youth and college students?
A: [(https://schoolhouseconnection.org/learn/from-our-inboxes/)] states that college students who were previously homeless are encouraged to obtain a current FAFSA verification letter to secure financial resources.
The path walked by homeless youth in rural Oklahoma is an almost invisible one. Too often, they go unnoticed and unsupported by the local institutions responsible for their well-being. [](https://nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/engaging-youth-experiencing-homelessness.pdf) Resource limits in rural areas and lack of access to social services add to the difficulty of providing for the needs of homeless youth, making it even more difficult for them to find stability. [](https://www.usich.gov/news/hope-is-a-choice-usich-directors-full-remarks-at-naeh-conference-on-ending-homelessness) Despite the odds, small steps are being made to help these unaccompanied homeless young people in Oklahoma, such as the opening of 20 new tiny homes for youth in Oklahoma City. [](https://kfor.com/news/local/20-new-tiny-homes-open-in-oklahoma-city-for-youth-experiencing-homelessness/) We can only hope that with continued effort and compassion, more and more of these young people will find the assistance and support they need to walk a brighter path in rural Oklahoma.