After a successful debut in 2016, the Coldest Night of the Year walkathon kicked off for the second year.
Members of the YWCA, as well as sponsors and walkers from last year’s event, announced it will be on Feb. 25.
The walk takes place all across Canada in more than 100 communities to bring awareness and raise funds to support homeless and poverty programs. People can walk routes in downtown Regina that are two, five and 10 kilometres long.
YWCA CEO Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen said family homelessness is often hidden homelessness.
“Hidden homelessness implies that while women and children may not be seen on the streets, they are staying in violent relationships, are trading sex for shelter, are couch-surfing from one place to another or living in unhealthy, overcrowded and unsafe environments,” Coomber-Bendtsen said.
During the 2015 homeless count in Regina, 36.8 per cent of those homeless were children under 18 years old.
According to Coomber-Bendtsen, children experiencing homelessness can have developmental delays, poor health, poor educational outcomes and high involvement with child welfare.
Faisal Khan is the captain for the team being put together by the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan.
“They don’t see many homeless people because they are not in front of them, but they’re there,” Khan said.
Kathleen Wilson took part in the walk last year. She is team captain for “Warm Heart, Cold Toes.”
“I think homelessness is a very big problem, I think there’s a lot of people slipping through the cracks in Regina,” Wilson said.
Last year, 33 Regina teams, totaling 166 walkers of all ages, took part. In total, $26,000 was raised to support YWCA programs and services for homeless families. One of those programs is My Aunt’s Place in Regina.
Coomber-Bendtsen said in 2016 they had to turn away 768 women and 503 children because they did not have enough space.
Individuals and teams can register for the walk online.