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Londoner Heykel Kader is trying to raise awareness by living on the street

Londoner Heykel Kader is trying to raise awareness by living on the street

As part of his efforts to raise awareness and money for London’s homeless youth, a business owner is going homeless this Christmas. And you can follow him on Twitter. With a cellphone and warm clothing — nothing else — Heykel Kader plans to lock the doors at his Wortley Village residence Friday evening, vowing not […]

As part of his efforts to raise awareness and money for London’s homeless youth, a business owner is going homeless this Christmas.

And you can follow him on Twitter.

With a cellphone and warm clothing — nothing else — Heykel Kader plans to lock the doors at his Wortley Village residence Friday evening, vowing not to return for one week.

He will keep friends and followers updated about his experience on Facebook and Twitter, said Kader, who owns I am Who I Am fitness centre.

“I don’t have any plans,” he said, adding he won’t sleep in a shelter unless forced by police and won’t take food unless he’s able to provide a volunteer service in exchange.

“I don’t want to take away from people who are in need. I don’t need to go to a shelter or eat food from a place, I have a warm place to go to,” said Kader, who is doing this as part of his ongoing support of Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) — a local agency that offers housing, training and support to troubled youth.

Kader has also been a vocal proponent of the agency’s Raising the Roof campaign which sells tuques at $10 apiece — with $8 from every sale going to local programs.

“I am very supportive of what he is doing,” said Mirella Bryant, transition services team leader for YOU. “You hear of people doing a little demonstration for one night, but this is very different because he has no plan. I asked him if he wanted to go to a shelter and he said ‘no.’ He’s just winging it and we are going to be following him on Twitter.”

She said YOU volunteers will also meet up with Kader a few times during the week and try to sell tuques from his location.

The demonstration could generate understanding about homelessness, said Abe Oudshoorn, vice-chair of the London Homeless Coalition.

“Is it realistic? I think it’s never going to be the same when someone does have other options to turn to, but the thing about homelessness is we often remove ourselves from it — the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feel of it — and anything that can help the general public understand more about homelessness is great.”

Kader is no stranger to homelessness. He was 15 the first time he slept in a park. His shelter was at the bottom of a playground structure, inside one of those plastic tubes kids climb through.

“I’ll remember that for the rest of my life, how cold I was and how afraid that someone would see me,” he said.

He lived on the streets and other people’s couches for years in Ontario cities, including London, before getting his life on track.

You can find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @heykelkader.

Article by: Jennifer O’Brien, The London Free Press Saturday, December 22, 2012

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