Merici girls, getting ready for the top, do their own CEO Sleepout

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CANBERRA’S winter did not favour Year 10, 11 and 12 students and teachers from Merici College who rose to the challenge on Tuesday 24 June and slept outdoors in the College’s quad to raise funds for Canberra’s homeless.

With the temperature low, students and teachers prepared themselves for a cold night out.

Merici’s Student Representative Council (SRC) organised the fundraising event not only to help St Vinnies raise funds but also to raise awareness of homelessness. This 12 hour event began at 7.00pm on Tuesday 24 June and finished at 7.00am Wednesday 25 June. A total of 58 students participated, sleeping on cardboard in a very cold auditorium, and about 20 students and teachers braved the elements to sleep outside in the New Quad.

It was held alongside the Vinnies CEO Sleepouts which are taking place across Australia.

Homelessness is a problem often overlooked and misunderstood by the wider community. The Vinnies School Sleepout has allowed students to experience homelessness for themselves through one night of ‘sleeping rough’. With only cardboard for sleeping on and making shelter, this hands-on approach has developed students’ understanding of the debilitating effects of homelessness as well as creating a sense of community responsibility.

The College’s SRC Captains, Zufi Emerson and Abby Smith say it is all about raising awareness of the poverty and homelessness that many Canberrans face each night. “We think that the best way for us to understand the severity of this issue is to give up a warm night at home and instead experience the harshness of life that these people face each day”.

Ms Sonia Conte, Teacher and SRC Facilitator at Merici congratulated the students for participating. “The initiative the students showed in organising this event has been outstanding. The students were very keen to get a feel of homelessness so that they can relate more personally to those people who are less fortunate than themselves. The uncomfortable conditions were felt by all the students with only cardboard to sleep on. I was really impressed with their maturity and their eagerness to participate. We raised a total of $979 for Vinnies – a fantastic effort!”

Merici College would like to thank IGA Lyneham, Brumby’s Lyneham and Baker’s Delight Dickson for donating food items to the College for the students’ dinner and breakfast.

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