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National Safe Place Week Helps Prevent Teen Homelessness
Date:3/12/2010

LOUISVILLE, Ky., March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Each year, nearly three million youths run away from home, putting themselves at a high risk for drug addiction, prostitution, disease and mental illness.  National Safe Place (NSP) is launching a week-long "Don't Get Boxed In" campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with teen homelessness and the services available to youth in crisis.  

To view a short video illustrating the shocking statistics around teen homelessness, click

http://www.youtube.com/user/nationalsafeplace.

The "Don't Get Boxed In: Text-4-Help: 69866" campaign coincides with National Safe Place Week (March 15-20), which the United States Senate has supported for the past twelve years.  National Safe Place Week is part of the innovative Safe Place program, which brings businesses and volunteers together to provide help and safety to children and teens facing abuse, neglect or serious family problems.

"In the past 12 months, approximately 1.6 million youths slept on the street in this country, and the economic downturn has only intensified the problem," said Sandy Bowen, NSP Executive Director.  "A cardboard box is no substitution for a home. By providing teens with access to resources, social services, and shelters, National Safe Place is helping to keep youth safe from the dismal realities of life on the street."

The "Don't Get Boxed In" campaign will launch the week of March 15 with local events being held in several cities. These events will feature graffiti-covered cardboard boxes listing shocking statistics about teen homelessness and NSP "Txt 4 Help" information.

Last fall, NSP successfully launched the NSP "Txt 4 Help" Program, a 24-hour text-for-support service for youth in crisis. By texting the word SAFE and their current location to the number 69866, those in need of assistance will receive an address of the nearest Safe Place location and contact number for the local youth shelter.  In cities that don't have a Safe Place program, the youth receive the name and number of the youth shelter or, if there is no local shelter, a national-hotline number. Since the October 2009 launch, the "Txt 4 Help" service has been accessed more than 1,700 times.

The mission of National Safe Place is to provide immediate assistance and resources to young people in crisis, so they don't end up on the streets. Despite the success of the "Txt 4 Help" program, many teens are still in need of a safe place.  NSP Week gives us an opportunity to place the NSP message directly in front of teens so they know if they are ever in trouble there are people who can help.

About National Safe Place

National Safe Place (NSP), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., provides training and technical assistance for youth service agencies and businesses interested in developing a Safe Place program.  Safe Place sites provide access to immediate help and safety for all young people in crisis. A public-private network of more than 17,000 sites across the country extends the doors of local youth shelters by displaying the Safe Place sign. Business partners and community locations that appeal to youth – such as fast food restaurants, convenience stores, fire stations, public buses and libraries – connect kids looking for help with the youth service agency. In 2009, 7,289 youth received immediate help at a Safe Place site.  Another 6,710 youth contacted a Safe Place site or shelter for help after learning about the program through school and community education. The Safe Place program was created by the YMCA of Greater Louisville in 1983. For additional information, visit www.nationalsafeplace.org.

SOURCE National Safe Place

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