Those of us who met Joe Roberts as he walked through Merrickville and Kemptville last year as part of his Push for Change walk across Canada will remember the dedication of Joe, his wife and supporters. On May 1, Joe began pushing a shopping cart across Canada to raise awareness and funds to help end youth homelessness. Joe was brought to Kemptville by North Grenville Youth Up! as part of a campaign to bring the issue of youth homelessness to the forefront of public awareness. And while the excitement of that day seems far behind us, Joe has continued his trek across Canada, and is only now leaving our province on his way to BC.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), students and members of the community in Kenora helped The Push for Change mark a milestone as Joe approached the Manitoba border on his 9,000 km trek across Canada to end youth homelessness. Hundreds of students and community members cheered and walked with Joe as he pushed his shopping cart through the streets of Kenora to the Seven Generations Education Institute where presentations were live streamed to thousands of students in northern communities. Community leaders also gathered for a ceremony and presentations with The Push for Change, OPP and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The OPP have been partners with Joe as he walked across Ontario, helping to protect him as he trekked along highways, and partnering with local communities to put on events and activities to inform the public of Joe and his cause. According to an OPP statement: “As part of its community safety partnership with The Push for Change, OPP members gained a new perspective on homeless youth by organizing and participating in more than 220 events across the province such as several hockey challenges, community meals, sleep outs, clothing and food collections, and more. Through these events, tens of thousands of people heard about the impact of homelessness on youth, families, stakeholders and communities.”

Further information about The Push for Change campaign is available at www.thepushforchange.com. Further information about the OPP Push for Change community safety partnership may be found at www.opp.ca.

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