On Saturday, March 24 the teens at YSI’s Youth Emergency Service shelter received a visit from Philadelphia Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos, retired former standout Eagles receiver Fred Barnett and SWOOP, the team’s mascot. The occasion was the Philadelphia Safe Place Rally, an event sponsored by Teva Pharmaceuticals and the Eagles to mark the close of National Safe Place Week (March 18 – 24, 2012). During the week Safe Place agencies like YSI worked together with community partners to gain much-needed exposure for Safe Place’s mission of preventing youth homelessness.
Teens in participating cities who are considering running away from home can walk into Safe Place sites (Wal-mart and the YMCA are local examples) and receive timely, compassionate support from employees and Safe Place volunteers. Safe Place staff and volunteers assist teens in finding youth-serving agencies where they can spend the night, identifying resources that they need, and in working through the conflicts that caused them to leave home. This effort is extremely important, as national agencies estimate that approximately 1.6 to 2.8 million youth run away from home each year.
The event featured an exciting and diverse program: an inspirational speech and a truly unique magic show by Jon, a heartfelt reflection by Fred about the reasons avoiding obstacles and finding success in life, and, of course, tons of good-natured fun courtesy of SWOOP. In the afternoon a number of teens bravely shared their stories and spoken word artists El Poeta and Amun Miraaj performed poems that echoed the event’s dominant themes of self-respect and compassion for others.
YSI would like to thank the Philadelphia Eagles and Teva Pharmaceuticals for their support of YSI and the Youth Emergency Service shelter, the poets and young people who shared their stories, and all of the sponsors who donated food items and prizes. To see some great photos of the event taken by El Poeta, go to our Facebook page. For more information about YSI’s Safe Place program, click here.