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Iowa State students and Ames residents gather at Cyclone Sports Complex on Friday, April 26 for Reggie's Sleepout. Reggie's Sleepout is named after Reggie Kelsey, a man who aged out of the foster care system in 2001 and found difficultly finding permanent housing before he was found dead in the Des Moines River three and a half months later. This event is to raise awareness and funding to support child and youth homelessness. The event features on-stage entertainment and a cardboard box building competition.

Using the phrase “around the world” is a very broad perspective. It cast your vision globally and does not allow for a more personal viewpoint. When I think of world suffering, I think of poverty, hunger, sex trafficking, abusive power, etc. Rarely do I think of those things on a scale as small as Ames. 

After attending Reggie’s Sleepout last Friday night, my perspective was broadened and these thoughts flooded my mind. After hearing Krista Mcalley’s testimony, I was made more aware of the kids of things happening in small communities in Iowa. She experienced homelessness after graduating from the foster care system at the age of 19.

“Situations can be tough but you just have to know it will get better,” Mcalley said.

She was able to keep a full-time job but lived through couch surfing and out of her Jeep. She got involved in a youth organization called, “Achieving Maximum Potential” and eventually was adopted at the age of 21. 

First and foremost I was completely humbled as I saw that a lot of my cares in life had nothing to do with where am I going to sleep that night or what I am going to eat. Second, I knew these issues were prominent in Iowa communities, but I had never heard it firsthand. Like I said, I would typically see these issues as things outside of Iowa. I have learned differently. 

According to families helping families, every 40 minutes a child is neglected or abused in Iowa which often leads to the foster care system. Iowa is ranked 6th in the nation with about 14,000 children in the foster care system and 36 percent of those need mental health medication. 

Often after children graduate from the foster care system they have no support system to go to and are easily left for homeless living. Reggie’s Sleepout is based on the story of Reggie Kelsey who was without support when aging out of the foster system. Within the same year, Reggie was found dead in the Des Moines River.

So now that my ignorance has been educated, what do I do now? Like I said before, see the blessings in my life and be thankful. Then instead of being a bystander, actively pursue opportunities to contribute to my communities fight against injustices and suffering around us.

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