What I didn't realize until recently, is that over 1.6 million youths aged 12-17 sleep on the street annually. I had no idea that over half of all homeless youth have been kicked out of their homes, or that almost an equal amount have been sexually abused. Homeless youth are less visible, but the problem is staggering.
Being an artist, I am particularly aware of just how crucial a stable home environment is to the development of one's talent and abilities. When I was a teenager the pressures upon my shoulders felt significant enough, without having to worry about where I'd spend the night, or whether my family would reject me for being LGBT. I always had the protection of a loving family to prevent me from getting too deep into things I couldn't handle - but the main thing that allowed me to develop as a young person was the fact that I had a home.
When I think about what comprises a home, it's not so simple to define; these days, home is the concept of doing what I love, playing music and choosing my own path. One thing I know is what a home is NOT: it is not the constant fear that there is nowhere safe to sleep. It isn't a place where you're pressured to trade sex for a roof over your head, where you can't get a nutritious meal or don't have the space to read, reflect and grow.
New Arrivals Vol. 4: Artists Against Youth Homelessness is a compilation of original music by independent musicians who are concerned about homeless youth, and want to help. All proceeds from this diverse, ambitious collection will benefit The National Network For Youth (NN4Y); NN4Y's mission is to champion the needs of runaway, homeless and other disconnected youth through advocacy, innovation, and member services.
Hopefully by casting light on the issue of youth homelessness, our project will not only help raise much-needed funds for NN4Y, but it will also increase awareness of the vulnerability of homeless youth. The more we can do to empower young people to break the cycle of homelessness, the better chance they'll have to grow up and thrive, versus becoming part of the adult homeless population.
As both musicians and music appreciators, it's so important that we remember what a privilege it is to have had the space, time and support to absorb our inspirations. Without a home, the stress of everyday life doesn't allow for much else than survival, and that's just no way for even one, let alone millions of young people to live. Learn more about "New Arrivals Vol. 4: Artists Against Youth Homelessness" by visiting newarrivalscd.
And don't forget the fundraiser concert tonight in New York City!