Washburn Students Build Tent City, Awareness of Homelessness

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - According to the latest data by the Kansas State Department of Education, 651 children in the Topeka school district are homeless.

Washburn university students discovered this fact - and many others about homelessness - as they created an art project to build a tent city right campus.

Scrawled on signs all over tent city, the facts were hard to miss.

"Unfortunately, one of the most shocking to me that's over there," said Christopher Bryant, pointing towards tent city, "...the majority of the people, the largest population of people that are homeless are children. And these are real facts and I want students at Washburn to be aware."

Bryant recounted how he saw hunger and homelessness first-hand during a study-abroad trip to Nicaragua in 2002. The sights of children picking through garbage dumps haunted him even after he returned.

Now he says wants his peers to know hunger and homelessness are happening right on our doorsteps too.

He approached an arts professor with the idea to have students create a tent city and learn about about the issues during the process. The idea was enthusiastically received by the art department.

Design and education students from six classes participated this year. They researched about hunger and homelessness in Kansas, nationally as well as internationally, and presented their findings on signs planted throughout the tent installations.

The display is part of series of events at WU to highlight National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Students are collecting food donations on site and, in coordination with the Oxfam Club at WU, there will be a Oxfam Hunger Banquet Tuesday and a meal served to the homeless on Thursday.

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