Trent student Simal Iftikhar will be living and sleeping outdoors overnight for 12 hours in an effort to heighten awareness of and raise funds to benefit homeless youth and families who access supports through Peterborough’s Youth Emergency Shelter (YES) and in conjunction with Peterborough Cares.
“We’re so privileged to sleep in our own beds; to have warmth,” says Ms. Iftikhar, who will “sleep out” in the backyard of her home from March 26 into March 27, 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and is asking others to do likewise. “When we sleep outside we’ll better understand what [individuals who are homeless] are experiencing. If you can’t go outside, get away from your bed and sleep on the floor or even in your garage.”
Noting that shelters such as YES are at full capacity and struggling for funding, the Master of Education student brings to her fundraiser a deep sense of empathy as well as knowledge she has gained through community-based research and placements as a Trent student.
“Every research opportunity I’ve had at Trent has directly impacted the community,” says Ms. Iftikhar, whose thesis chronicles the in-school struggles of refugee children, and what educators and school boards can do better to help them create their own identity while adapting to a new culture.
Ms. Iftikhar’s research, combined with earlier and current real-world experiences in the mental health field, including helping establish a walk-in clinic for a local agency, has fueled her desire to continue work in this area.
“I didn’t realize how many people need help until I saw them waiting in line (for the walk-in clinic). You want an easy and quick solution but the more work I put into planning things, and into my research the more hope I have that we can change things.”