Children deal with tremendous problems on a daily basis. These problems, which can consist of many different things, go unrecognized a majority of the time. A problem children deal with that I want to address is homelessness.
Children experience this problem to a great extent. I live in a smaller town, so I do not see a lot of this issue where I live. However, I do live near a bigger, more diverse city which is located near a well known reservation. This reservation is Pine Ridge. Pine Ridge is located in the southern part of South Dakota. This reservation holds a high poverty rate of 53.75%. Compared to the average poverty rate in the United States which is 15.6%, the amount of poverty in Pine Ridge is almost three times more. Since it is such a poor area, many families are left homeless. The children in these families are affected immensely. The effect of poverty on these children makes it hard for them to live a normal life.
Living in this poverty not only affects these children’s lives now, but it also takes a toll on their futures. These children, especially under the age of fourteen, are stranded when it comes to being homeless. Whereas, they cannot get a job to help with bills, they cannot provide for themselves financially, and they cannot reach out in hope to find a home without having the fear of being taken away from their family.
There are great programs such as the backpack program and Meal on Wheels that reach out to these children to make sure they are fed. These programs are great when it comes to keeping these children nourished. There are also places such as the women’s and homeless shelters that provide these families with shelter. There are places to help these families maintain a roof over their heads.
However, where do these children go when they need guidance with their mental health? Mental health is something that needs to be talked about when it comes to helping children who are homeless. Homeless children need to be able to look up to someone. They need to be able to talk to someone without being scared. If I was able to help these children in any way, I would want to set up a hotline for these children. I would like these hotlines to be a safe place. I would want them to be able to talk to someone who understands. I would want the person on the other end of the line helping these children to understand the situations on a deeper level. I would want the person answering the hotline to have the same history as these children. When these children call, I want them to receive healing and guidance. I want this hotline to help them to break the cycle in their family.
When the cycle is broken, the future for not only these children will be brighter but those children’s children will be too. These children that suffer silently in poverty are the children I would want to help. I want these children to be able to have hope for their future. If hotlines were made for these children, they would not have to struggle in silence.
By Sierra Hopkins, scholarship award winner
UCA’s most recent Scholarship Essay Contest for High School Juniors and Seniors officially ended on November 30, 2020. While the theme has always been to explore ways to make a more caring world, our most recent Essay Contest specifically asked how they would make a more caring world in one of four categories – Children – Animals – Reforestation – Elderly. The winning essays have been posted and awards distributed.
Because there were so many impressive essays submitted from across the U.S., we decided to share many of these students’ inspiring caring actions with you in this publication. Through their essays, the students provide a refreshing insight into their minds and hearts, offering an in depth view of our world that we often overlook. They take us on a journey rich in knowledge, personal experience and creative solutions. It is our hope you will feel as informed and inspired as we do. We are proud to present to you the writings, thoughts and dreams for a more caring future through these articles.