To help educate community members about the challenges homeless young people face — particularly in the suburbs — an advance film screening and discussion panel will be held on Monday, hosted by Eden Prairie's Human Rights and Diversity Commission.
Part of a spring cluster of events focused on homeless young people, the screening aims to focus attention on a problem that extends beyond urban areas, said Susan Cogger-Williams, a board member at the Oasis for Youth nonprofit, which serves homeless and precariously housed youth.
"A lot of people go, 'Yeah, Minneapolis has a problem, but not out here,' which is not the situation," she said, adding that homeless youth in the suburbs usually don't want to travel to Minneapolis or other larger cities for services.
Filmed by award-winning documentarians, "The Homestretch" follows three homeless Chicago teens fighting to graduate from school as they navigate shelters, transitional homes and life on the street.
The event will take place at 7 p.m. in the Eden Prairie City Office's Community Room on the lower level of Eden Prairie Center.
A panel discussion will follow the film, featuring Oasis for Youth's new executive director, Nicole Mills, as well as representatives from Teens Alone and Eden Prairie's People Reaching Out to People.
The Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin County plans to hold a resource forum for people who work in the field, a community forum and a fundraiser later in the spring.
Cogger-Williams said she hopes that people who attend will become more aware of the problem. "We hope that they will take away the perception that the issue is serious, but that it can be made better, that there's hope," she said. "These kids can get to a place where they're happy and productive members of society."
Parker Lemke is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.