If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, The Homestretch is a documentary film that follows the journeys of three homeless teenagers in Chicago – Roque, Kasey and Anthony. It shows their struggles and challenges as they fight to stay in school, graduate and build a future, all without a stable place to stay at night. Many of our staff members have had a chance to view the film and we found it to be a powerful window into the lives of students experiencing homelessness. Below are some of our reflections:
“What struck me most about The Homestretch was Roque’s story. Each kid they focused on had another layer of difficulty in their life (anti-LGBT views, abuse, foster system) and in Roque’s case it was being an undocumented student. You begin to realize how hard it would be to really pull yourself out of that situation without being surrounded by people willing to help pull you out. Luckily he had that in his teacher. I can imagine that most homeless teenagers do NOT have that kind of support. And even with the help he had, he still found it very difficult to navigate the system. It was heartbreaking but inspiring.
I also was struck at some of the amazing help that IS out there for kids in Chicago. One of the students was able to graduate from a program in a year and get a job in IT. I hope there is a follow up story on these kids one day.” – Erin Brown, Program Manager
“The Homestretch documentary was fantastic because it really humanized the issue of homelessness, and particularly youth homelessness. Sometimes people believe that teenagers who end up homeless have simply run away from home without cause; we’re not often given a glimpse into the actual situations that cause a teenager to leave home. The film, however, did a fantastic job in showing the outside factors (immigration, LGBTQ rights, foster care and abuse, mental illness, family relationships) that all play a role in the often complicated situations that lead a student to leave home.
My hope is that watching the film and getting a glimpse into the lives of the students featured – Roque, Kasey and Anthony – helps to break down the stereotypes that people hold about students who are experiencing homelessness. These three kids are great examples of fantastic young people who are headed for success!” – Shalyn Getz, Program & Communications Specialist
“The Homestretch Documentary is an eye opening look into the true struggles that many children and families in our country/communities face on a daily basis. There are two main points in this film that really resonated with me and my experiences in working with children and families experiencing homelessness. The first is that no two families or individuals have similar stories. All three of the teenagers in this film were in their situations for different reasons, many completely out of their control. There is a misconception regarding homelessness and what it actually looks like. The Homestretch shed light on the complex nature of homelessness. The second is all of the amazing and caring people who helped each teenager along their journey. From the homeless shelter, teachers and social workers each played a key role in helping the teenagers survive and change their life story for the better!
I see many inspiring, caring and dedicated members of our community working with children who are facing homelessness in our city. Each and every one of them makes an impact and that, to me, is the most important part.” – Samantha Breeling, Volunteer Coordinator
If you did not have the chance to watch the original broadcast of The Homestretch, you still have a chance! The documentary is streaming online until tomorrow, May 14 – click here to view the film. We hope that you will watch the film if you haven’t already, and that you will join us in this important conversation about youth homelessness by spreading the word to your family and friends! Feel free to leave a comment with your reflections below.