In planning for our Run Home Chicago race, we received a special request from a local CPS teacher who signed up her classroom and fellow teachers for the 5k race– an act that we found inspiring and wanted to share with our Run Home Chicago runners, walkers, homeless advocates and greater Chicago community.
Mrs. Smith, the teacher who inquired about our race, views Run Home Chicago as an opportunity to raise awareness about homelessness and its invasive impact on children in the classroom. Having taught in a Chicago Public School for the past 5 years, Mrs. Smith has had first hand experience with homeless students who needed help in gathering school supplies and fees for class field trips. It was one instance, however, where she came to realize the harsh realities of the effects of homelessness. She saw one of her former students on the street, asking for change at an intersection just 6 blocks from the school. Even though Mrs. Smith had previously taught the child, she was not aware of the student’s unstable home situation and that they had no place to complete research and homework assignments– this is when she knew something had to be done.
Mrs. Smith is currently approaching this challenge by effecting change within her own school community. She reported that the social makeup of her particular school is 98% African-American and only 55% of the students meet or exceeded Illinois Learning Standards. Mrs. Smith also aptly pointed out that her local Chicago public school was merely reflecting the social, economic and cultural fabric of its respective neighborhood; she mentioned that this is the case with all Chicago public schools, and that each school distinctly varies from the next as a result of religious and socio-economic characteristics of each neighborhood.
Mrs. Smith and her colleagues are collectively working towards raising awareness of the effects of homelessness on our education system by asking friends and family to donate funds to Run Home Chicago, as well as participating in the Run Home Chicago 5K race on June 10th. She explained that this race will be a personal accomplishment for all of the participating teachers whom at the finish line, will be satisfied to know that they completed a 5K in honor of raising awareness for a very prominent issue in not only in their school, but also the city of Chicago.
*names have been changed for confidentiality