This week, a report was published revealing that the number of homeless children in America has surged to a record-high 2.5 million—one child in every 30. This is an incredibly shocking and sobering statistic that, in and of itself, should be a call to action. But what can we do for these children that will make an actual, concrete difference in their lives now?
Well, we can start by making accessible to them the things that homeless adults take for granted every day. For example, how can we expect an indigent child to warm herself at a oil drum fire when she can’t even reach her little fingerless-gloved hands up over the lip? We can’t—which is why manufacturers need to start making little metal barrels for bereft tots to burn garbage in to keep themselves warm.
But we can’t stop there. There is an entire world of things out there that are out of reach for homeless children—often times, quite literally. For example, we need lighter sidewalk grates, so a filthy youngster’s weak little arms are able to lift them when they’re looking to curl up inside a heat exhaust vent after a long day of rooting through (full-size!) dumpsters for scraps of food or stripping copper wires from abandoned buildings.
And how can a street child take a sponge bath in a public park bathroom when the sinks are so high? Should they have to use the urinals? Then, when they’re done trying to clean themselves and are looking for a bench in the park to lay down on, what are they supposed to do when they’re all taken by the bigger homeless folks? Is it too much to ask for little-kid-sized park benches, too small for the adult poor, but perfect for kid bums to sleep on?
Not to mention smaller shopping carts for them to push all their worldly possessions around in and to collect empties for the deposit money. Do you honestly expect a malnourished eight-year-old to pilot a full-sized shopping cart full of empty beer bottles to a recycling center? Sure, he’ll have to make more trips with the smaller cart, but it’s better than not being able to do it at all.
When the temperature really dips in winter, you’ll often see homeless folks stuff their clothing with newspapers, which are readily available on most street corners. Again, no such luck for our littlest tramps. Which is exactly why we need to put out stacks of Highlights For Children for dispossessed kids to line their tattered clothes with and potentially survive sub-zero temperatures.
There are a million other simple changes like these that we can make so vagrant kids’ lives on the streets are a little easier. So please, spread the word and help make sure these destitute children have all of the same opportunities as every other person without shelter or enough food to eat.