On Wednesday January 24, Brampton residents will get the chance to see an up close and personal look at what it’s like to be a senior citizen struggling with homelessness.

Youth media empowerment organization Reel Youth, in partnership with the Regeneration Outreach Community and with funding assistance from The Ontario Trillium Foundation, has spearheaded the creation of youth-produced documentary films about homeless seniors in Brampton.

The people of Reel Youth believe housing is a human right, and hope that these films will play a small role in the movement to house more homeless people, not only in Brampton, but across Canada.

Five films will be premiering at Grace United Church in Brampton. Reel Youth Director Mark Vonesch says they chose this venue because “it’s a beautiful space that was kindly offered to us free of charge. It was also directly connected to where we facilitated the program making it easier for the youth and senior participants to access.”

Watch: CBC’s The National covers the Reel Youth Program

In addition to technical skills, the Reel Youth program works to increase the leadership abilities of its participants, as well as improving their emotional intelligence. The goal is to build confidence in the filmmakers so that they continue to take leadership positions to advocate for positive changes in their community.

As far as how the subjects of the films were chosen, Vonesch notes that Regeneration asked for those who were willing to “share their personal stories, spend time with youth, and play a role in addressing the housing crisis in Brampton and Canada.”

“Many people do not get or make the opportunity to know this marginalized population,” says Vonesch, “so these films will provide deeply personal insights and understanding of the people suffering around them.”

Vonesch hopes that audiences will gain empathy into the lives of older people struggling with homelessness and that this empathy will spur them to push for positive change. He hopes that the “movie stars” of the project will know that people care about them and that their stories are important.

“Once we are emotionally connected to people,” Vonesch says, “it’s harder to ignore them. We’re more motivated to make a difference.”

When: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 – Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the event begins at 7:00 p.m.

Where: Regeneration, Grace United Church, 156 Main St. North (Northeast corner of Main St. N and Church St.)

There will be a post-screening reception from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. where the public will have the opportunity to meet the youth and seniors.

Opportunities to donate funds to Regeneration will also be available. Any small change, cash or cheques will feed people in need of shelter and food.