Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

U of M students 'homeless' for 5 days

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Let's see... -14, -9, -13, -7, -6. Business students sleeping outside in support of homeless people will be watching the forecast lows more than highs the next five days.

Three men and three women, students at the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba, are braving the great outdoors with nothing but a sleeping bag and a cardboard mattress, starting Sunday night.

"I'm ready," Justin Monton, 21, fourth-year student specializing in international marketing, vowed Sunday. "The thing I'm telling people is I'm scared, definitely nervous, and definitely excited and motivated as well."

Monton's only experience is camping with his family, but there was the time he got lost as an exchange student in Guadalajara, Mexico, and spent a night on the streets unable to find his host family.

Most of his preparation has been reading up on homeless people. More than 20,000 people in Winnipeg have inadequate housing, and about 150 use homeless shelters each night, he said. Others spend the night outside, under bridges or elsewhere. About 150 of Winnipeg's homeless are under 30.

There are 27 business schools across the country participating in the program to raise awareness of youth homelessness. The five-year-old effort has raised nearly $1 million so far.

Locally, the money goes to Resource Assistance for Youth Inc., a non-profit, street-level agency that has won awards for its work. People wishing to donate can learn more at 5days.ca/manitoba.

The students will sleep on concrete outside the U of M's Drake Centre. They will attend classes by day but must work out a schedule so someone is with their "base camp" at all times.

The forecast is for seasonal temperatures this week, with relatively little precipitation.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 11, 2013 B2

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