Tuesday, November 30, 2021
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Youth Sleep Outside At Barney Allis Plaza

“Seeing how the other half lives” was a phrase taken literally during Sleepless in the City. The event is held annually at Barney Allis Plaza in downtown Kansas City to raise awareness for youth without homes. Overnight, young people from all over the Kansas City area come together to brave the outdoors and sleep in the shoes of someone in need. Although temperatures dropped to nearly 40 degrees, the crowd cared about the task at hand more than the cold.

Breanna Rodriguez, a participating member of Sleepless in the City by her tent
Breanna Rodriguez, a participating member of Sleepless in the City by her tent.

On the ground of Barney Plaza were rows of blankets, sleeping bags, and several tents, all ready to be the only shelter for those camping out overnight. Front and center was a stage filled with music from Generation Rap, a teen talk show on Hot 103 Jamz Saturday morning, with the host T-Ray. Running around in white moon boots was the powerful woman behind this event, Kaleena James. A UMKC alumna, James has been running this event for four years with a passion for helping her community.

Members of Generation Rap performing
Members of Generation Rap performing

“Youth homelessness is a rising epidemic in Kansas City,” James said, “and we want to continue to bring attention to it.”
The money raised from the event goes to restart, a local nonprofit that provides support services to those in need.
Youth homelessness in Jackson County alone has risen greatly. In a study done by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2008-2009 there were 576 homeless youth in Jackson County, by 2012-2013 that number has more than doubled to 1,240 youth. The trend shows a steady increase in the number of young people living on the streets.

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