This groundbreaking new school campus—which has been designed for homeless kids, by homeless kids—will soon serve as a refuge for roughly 200 underprivileged kids in Oklahoma City.
Positive Tomorrows, the nonprofit organization behind the school’s creation, recently began construction on the facility with a focus on the growth and wellbeing of the students.
The new facility will host a fully stocked and furnished “living room” area for both the students and their parents. Here they can prepare meals, eat dinner, and share in each other’s company, with the additional comfort of knowing they have a place where they are welcome.
“Our families are in … survivor mode,” Amy Brewer, Director of Education at Positive Tomorrows, told Citylab. “Schooling is an afterthought at best. For many of our kids, if they were not at Positive Tomorrows, they would not be at school. Positive Tomorrows is able to provide a family with an array of support services that a traditional public school cannot.”
Additionally, the students were able to help design the building with their own needs in mind. In an exercise Positive Tomorrows titled “Dream Big,” students were asked to submit drawings of what they wanted their new school to look like. Out of all of their requests, there were two common underlying desires amongst the homeless students: a place to spend quality time with other kids, and additional rooms to serve as their own personalized spaces.
Although these requests may seem relatively simple, they indicate the students’ need for both community and consistency – two things that they rarely experience when they are having to constantly move from one shelter, couch, garage, or basement to the next.
“Our kiddos have nothing that’s their own,” said Brewer. “‘If I want to do a Lego project, I can’t leave it out because where I stay tonight may not be where I stay tomorrow.’”
The nonprofit that just celebrated its 26th birthday has experienced great success in their work educating and supporting homeless Oklahoma families. According to an independent impact study summarized on the Positive Tomorrows website, about half of the families who received assistance from the organization have shown improvements in housing, employment, and income.
Positive Tomorrows has also provided tens of thousands of free school meals, as well as health and dental checkups. With the construction of a new school building, the charity staffers are excited to help more families than ever before, knowing that they’ve been turning away 100 kids every year.
“We feel a responsibility to serve more students,” said Susan Agel, Positive Tomorrows President and Principal. “We are thrilled to take this step forward today, and to move toward serving more of our community’s most vulnerable children.”
YOU can also improve the tomorrows of homeless kids today with a donation –or by sharing on social media so others might donate.
– Photos by MA+ Architecture