The Homestretch | Youth Action Collection

Expand/Collapse The Homestretch | Youth Action Collection


This collection is inspired by the Independent Lens documentary film The Homestretch, about three homeless teens who brave Chicago winters, high school pressures, and life alone on the streets to build a brighter future. Against the odds, they recover from the trauma of abandonment to create new, surprising definitions of home. A youth action guide, discussion guide, and 5 short film modules provide background information on the film and youth homelessness, along with discussion questions, suggested activities, and additional resources to inspire action to support young people experiencing homelessness. 

For additional information and resources for The Homestretch, visit the Independent Lens website.

  • The Homestretch: Youth Action Guide | The Homestretch

    The Homestretch follows three youths experiencing homelessness as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a better future for themselves. Each of these resilient teenagers works to complete his or her education while facing the trauma of being alone and abandoned at an early age. This youth action guide empowers young people to address the challenge of youth homelessness in their own communities. Whether you're an individual who feels called to action regarding the issue of youth homelessness or you're part of a school- or community-based organization, this guide will equip you with the tools you need to be an agent of change.

    For more information about The Homestretch, visit the Independent Lens website.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Schools on the Front Lines of Youth Homelessness: Film Module | The Homestretch

    This film module is adapted from The Homestretch, as seen on PBS's Independent Lens. It introduces people featured in the documentary and provides an overview of some of the most pressing issues surrounding youth homelessness. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) identified more than 22,000 homeless children and youth in the 2013-2014 school year. This module depicts many of the challenges faced by designated school liaisons for homeless youth as well as the Night Ministry, a program that provides emergency overnight shelter beds for young people. It also depicts Teen Living Programs, which builds community, hope, and opportunity for homeless youth by addressing their immediate needs and helping them transition to adulthood and achieve independence and stable housing.

    For more information about The Homestretch, visit the Independent Lens website.

    Grades: 8-12
  • The Homestretch: Discussion Guide | The Homestretch

    This discussion guide introduces the documentary film The Homestretch, which centers on three homeless teens who brave Chicago winters, high school pressures, the trauma of abandonment, and life alone on the streets to build a brighter future for themselves and create new, surprising definitions of "home." This guide provides background information on the film and youth homelessness in the United States as well as discussion questions, suggested activities, and additional resources to combat the problem of youth homelessness.

    For more information about The Homestretch, visit the Independent Lens website.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Introducing Anthony: Film Module | The Homestretch

    This is a short film module adapted from The Homestretch, as seen on PBS's Independent Lens. This portrait introduces Anthony, a young man who spent his childhood in foster homes and had an adoptive father who was physically abusive. Homeless starting at the age of 14, Anthony was unable to concentrate on schoolwork, distracted by worries about where he would sleep and whether or not he would eat. He committed crimes to get what he needed to live and ended up serving time in a juvenile detention facility, but afterward he was accepted into Teen Living Programs (TLP) and passed his GED test, then was accepted into the Year Up Chicago program, where he learned business skills and technical computer skills. A talented poet and rapper and an ambitious young man, Anthony never stops planning and working for success.

    Anthony's story reveals the challenges faced by many homeless youth who have spent time in foster care and/or served time in the juvenile justice system. Students will explore the support that is needed to help young people transition out of foster care and how the juvenile justice system handles homeless youth.

    For more information about The Homestretch, visit the Independent Lens website.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Introducing Kasey: Film Module | The Homestretch

    This is a short film module adapted from The Homestretch, as seen on PBS's Independent Lens. Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Kasey experienced episodes of homelessness with her family as a child, but after she came out as a lesbian, her family disowned her. Kasey then spent more than a year bouncing between friends' and family members' homes and sleeping on the street; she eventually dropped out of high school her senior year.

    Kasey ultimately found a new transitional home—Belfort House, part of Teen Living Programs' (TLP) housing support—and reenrolled in school, but in her new living situation she still felt her mother's rejection of her sexual orientation. A talented poet and painter, Kasey continues to receive counseling for her mental-health challenges, and has moved into an apartment that is part of a new program for homeless youth. And although she continues to look for work, Kasey also hopes to go to college one day.

    Kasey's story depicts the family rejection and subsequent homelessness that many lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth experience. Students will explore the challenges that LGBT youth face in finishing school while experiencing homelessness as well as the support that can be found in "chosen" families.

    For more information about The Homestretch, visit the Independent Lens website.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Introducing Roque: Film Module | The Homestretch

    This film module adapted from The Homestretch, as seen on PBS's Independent Lens, is a character portrait of Roque, who was brought to the United States from Mexico by his parents at the age of five. Due to immigration complications, he was forced to separate from his family and fend for himself, on and off, beginning in his sophomore year of high school. And because of an unstable housing situation, Roque spent several years bouncing around, which took a toll on his grades. After one of his teachers introduced him to Shakespeare and acting, he became inspired to finish high school and apply to college; he has lived with this particular teacher, Maria Rivera, as part of her family, and with her support he has enrolled in college. Roque hopes to study theater and psychology and help others through some of the same challenges he has faced.

    Roque's story illustrates that youths who experience homelessness and lack lawful immigration status endure particular challenges, including enrolling in college and securing financial aid. Students will explore the ways in which peers, teachers, and institutions can support youths struggling with their immigration status and homelessness.

    For more information about The Homestretch, visit the Independent Lens website.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Focus on LGBT Youth Homelessness: Film Module | The Homestretch

    This is a short film module adapted from The Homestretch, as seen on PBS's Independent Lens, about youth homelessness, with a focus on LGBT youth.

    For more information about The Homestretch, visit the Independent Lens website.

    Grades: 8-12

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