Nipigon students use music to raise awareness of youth homelessness

Students at a Nipigon public school are hoping their new music video will raise awareness about youth homelessness.

Students at George O'Neill Public School record song, release video to support Push for Change

Students at George O'Neill public school appear in a video for their song Homeless, which was released on Feb. 14, 2018, and is intended to raise awareness about youth homelessness. (George O'Neill Public School/Youtube)

Students at a Nipigon public school are hoping their new music video will raise awareness about youth homelessness.

The Grade 5/6 class at George O'Neill Public School wrote and recorded the song — called Homeless — last year, and had planned to release it then. However, Joe Roberts of The Push for Change, who was walking across the country to raise awareness about youth homelessness, stopped at the school and spoke to the students, and plans changed.

"We thought that we'd pick a more meaningful date, and he would share video footage from his time across the country," said teacher Shy-Anne Bartlett. 

The more meaningful date came last week — Feb. 14, 2018, Valentine's Day — and the video, which features the students from George O'Neill along with footage captured by Roberts during his walk, was released on Youtube.

Grade 6 student Patience Ross said she was surprised to learn about how big an issue youth homelessness is.

'We get to help people'

"I didn't know how big of a problem it is, and I didn't know there were so many kids my age and older going through such tough times," she said. "I hope that [the video] makes a difference to the world by letting people know that when you see a homeless youth, even just a homeless person in general, that you shouldn't think they're bad."

Mya Earsagnini, a Grade 6 student at George O'Neill, said putting the song and video together was a "really good experience."

"We get to help people and donate to the ones who don't have what we have, or couldn't get education," she said. "We just wanted to show that we care about them."

Grade 6 student Leah Brennan said Roberts himself was an inspiration for the song (the class, Bartlett said, wrote it for him).

Song recorded in classroom

"At one point, he was homeless," Brennan said. "He doesn't want other people to have to go through the same thing as he did."

The song itself was recorded in a classroom at the school, Bartlett said. And while Bartlett helped out with the video, the bulk of the editing was done by the students themselves, she said.

"We're totally pumped about it," Bartlett said of the final product. "For me as a teacher, and then also as a musician, to put that amount of work into the song and the video and then to involve the students ... it's a really big undertaking, but it's also one of those really remarkable moments when you get to see it come to fruition."