On November 2, 2018, LATO held its fourth annual conference, In Our Backyard: Pulling Back the Curtain on Homeless Youth Trauma, on the campus of Temple University. This year, the conference organizers pulled out all the stops to educate attendees about the traumatic impact of youth homelessness.
Information was presented about the available resources and services to support a young person’s effort to survive beyond housing insecurity. The panelists addressed the issue of youth homelessness and housing insecurity from a mental health, legal, and social perspective.
The relationship between housing insecurity and human trafficking was explored through the testimony of a panelist who survived sex trafficking, and who now works in a community outreach program in Philadelphia’s Kensington section. That neighborhood is dealing with one of the highest rates of sex trafficking in the United States.
An empowering thought-provoking workshop was conducted by one of the presenters. Poetry and storytelling to address the wound left by trauma was addressed by another presenter.
LATO’s Public Service Announcement (PSA) contest was featured and once again, is focusing on preventing commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), a consequence of homelessness and housing insecurity. Last year’s winning PSA, which was created by a group of students from West Philadelphia High School, was screened, along with LATO’s DVD, In Our Backyard: Keeping Our Children Safe From Human Trafficking. Information was provided about how young people can enter this year’s PSA contest.
Our young attendees were also presented with an opportunity to receive a makeover by a LATO partner/sponsor, OmniTresses Salon and Omni Tresses Haircare. This year, because of generous food donations from Tela’s Market and Kitchen and J & A Institute of Culinary Arts, lunch was free for the youth who attended the conference.
We at LATO believe that it is our responsibility to share our knowledge about trauma with the community and the world. We will continue to put forth effort to support the collective endeavors of our society to address and disrupt the course of homeless youth trauma and all traumas.
Written by: Clara Whaley Perkins, Ph.D., Chair, LATO