Reaching Out One at a Time
Shoji here. I wanted to relay something that happened this week that was a beacon of hope that Natsukoarts Design Studio could be a part of. It brought a tingle to my heart and showcased the power of the human spirit. Natsuya Uesugi wrote the story “A Storm’s Coming” which is featured in grydscaen: tribute. It is a story about a homeless teen Rom and his life on the streets of the slum-level Echelons in the Red Light District. The story is one of hope that five counseling centers are using to teach self esteem to troubled teens.
This week we received a letter from a homeless teen who read the A Storm’s Coming manga and was able to find hope in the words. Instead of tricking and involving himself in prostitution after reading the story he went to a shelter, had a good meal and is now trying to get off the streets after sleeping in a bed for a night. The fact that Natsuya Uesugi’s story can have that kind of impact is awesome and I salute him in his efforts to get the story out for access more youth in crisis.
Natsukoart Design Studio is committed to bringing homeless youth awareness front and center. Through outreach and Natsuya’s works that feature the character Rom and his plight, we strive to get the word out and increase visibility for LGBT homeless youth.
LGBT Homeless Youth Statistics
- 40% of homeless youth are LGBT
- The #1 reason LGBT youth are on the streets is family rejection
- 46% of homeless youth run away to escape physical abuse
- 17% of homeless youth run away to escape sexual abuse
- 50%+ of youth in homeless shelters suffer mental health problems
- 22% of homeless youth become prostitutes before 18
- 65% of homeless youth become prostitutes after 18
- 63% of street youth experience physical violence/victimization
With statistics like that it just shows that homeless youth are at high risk for exploitation, violence and danger. With mental health being another concern for these youth, it is programs that reach out to these teens that are needed more and more every day. Natsukoarts Design Studio tries hard to do its part along with Natsuya to reach these youth in crisis.
Rom and Faid in grydscaen
Rom is a 16 year old homeless youth who lives on the street in the Red Light District in the grydscaen story. He dumspter dives to eat, sleeps in the subway, begs for money, and keeps moving trying to stay warm and keep from harm. He has it pretty rough because he is short and scrawny and would never make it as a prostitute on the streets. His life is hard and he is on the edge, each day one of survival. He draws the line at prostituting himself and that makes it difficult for him to “get out” of his situation.
Faid on the other hand is a prostitute in the story. He is a model and gets taken advantage of and has been known to do sultry photoshoots with the photograher pawing all over him. He has been prostituting himself since he was 18 the legal age in the story to be able to do that. His life is a little different as he has a main john who supports him and has cash on any given day due to his “working the streets.”
These two characters give visibility to the plight of youth on the streets. Two sides of the same coin. The new grydscaen: darkness web series that is over at the grydscaen blog shows scenes with both Rom and Faid and how they cope differently with their lives. By making their stories readily available it brings visibility to something people often overlook as not their problem or not a big deal. Youth homelessness should be everyone’s problem and we should do everything we can to support these youth and help get them off the streets and into a stable living situation where they can be themselves, be safe and focus on who they are and growing up.
As we move into the winter, the situation for homeless youth becomes more dire. The cold and finding a place that is warm to sleep becomes more of an issue. The weather forces these kids indoors into drug squats and sometimes into the arms of others for a warm bed to stay in, or they stay out in the cold where in some places the temperatures are dangerous.
Support your local youth homeless shelter. Even if you can’t then spread awareness of youth homelessness to those you know and others. Every voice can help to make a difference. Natsuya is doing it through his writing and Natsukoarts Design Studio through its outreach. Pitch in, show up, and make a difference for homeless youth.
Thanks for listening.