Kaleidoscope Youth Center is now a designated Safe Place in the central Ohio community. The building will display the yellow and black Safe Place sign, which signifies immediate help and safety for youth.
It is estimated over one million youth run away from home each year due to abuse, neglect, family conflicts and other issues. The Safe Place program is an option for young people who feel they have nowhere to turn. Columbus’ Safe Place initiative, operated by Huckleberry House, is part of a national network of Safe Place programs in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Nearly 20,000 community businesses and organizations nationwide display the Safe Place sign, making help readily available for youth in need.
“By making KYC a Safe Place, it provides a safe alternative for runaway or homeless youth in their community,” states Becky Westerfelt, Executive Director of Huckleberry House.
Kaleidoscope Youth Center Executive Director Erin Upchurch states, “This is an important next step for KYC in our continued expansion to meet the needs of our young people. Our youth need to know that there is a community that is here for them with resources and care. We’re very excited to grow our partnership with Huckleberry House in this way.”
Huckleberry House is central Ohio’s Safe Place® agency and has 135 partner sites, including all 23 locations in the Columbus Metropolitan Library system. In addition to Safe Place sites, youth may also access immediate help via TXT 4 HELP, a text-for-support service for youth in crisis. Teens can text the word “safe” and their current location (address, city, state) to 69866 and receive a message with the closest Safe Place location and the number for the local youth shelter. Users also have the option to text interactively with a mental health professional for more help.
About Huckleberry House
Started in 1970 as a shelter for runaway teens, Huckleberry House serves young people and families in crisis. The organization’s four core programs include a 24-hour shelter for teens, an 18-month transitional living program for young adults who have experienced homelessness and are preparing to live independently in permanent housing, a youth outreach team that connects young people with resources and a family support counseling program with an expertise in adolescent cognitive behavior practices. To learn more visit: www.huckhouse.org.
About National Safe Place Network
National Safe Place Network (NSPN) provides quality training and technical support for youth and family service organizations across the country. Along with being a leading membership organization offering tailored organizational development, training and professional development packages, NSPN also operates the nationally recognized programs Safe Place, HTR3, and the Family and Youth Services Bureau’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC). To learn more, please visit www.nspnetwork.org.
About Kaleidoscope Youth Center
Established in 1994, Kaleidoscope Youth Center is the largest and longest standing organization serving LGBTQIA+ young people, ages 12-24, in the state of Ohio. Kaleidoscope works in partnership with youth to create safer and affirming spaces for young people through their drop-in center, community education and outreach, advocacy and civic engagement, and in health and wellness, and housing opportunities. To learn more, please visit: www.kycohio.org.