Island Park students visit Tent City 3

  • Tue Mar 14th, 2017 9:53am
  • Life

A group of Island Park Elementary third graders visited Tent City 3 on the University of Washington campus. Photo courtesy of Craig Degginger/Mercer Island School District

A group of Island Park Elementary third graders from Stephanie John-Lewis’ class learned important lessons about homelessness and helping the community during a recent visit to Tent City 3 on the University of Washington campus.

“The visit came out of several conversations in our class about giving back and helping our community. That grew into more conversations about helping the homeless and the variety of ways that we all can help others,” John-Lewis said. “When I asked the children if they were interested in contributing – you should have seen the hands fly up!”

The students brought with them bags full of needed supplies for the camp, including food and hygiene items.

Tent City 3, operated by SHARE/Wheel, is on a three-month contract on the UW campus sheltering about 100 residents. UW students are working with the people living in the camp, which has a shared space for making meals and sanitary facilities. There was also a barber on site giving free haircuts.

The students learned about the daily operation of the camp under its own set of rules for residents. They were grateful and surprised that the Tent City environment was clean and not cluttered with litter, having been accustomed to seeing the encampments scattered along Interstate 90 in Seattle.

“Students felt badly that these kind people were in the situation that has caused them to live in a tent without warmth and stability. It was very humbling for all of us,” John-Lewis said.

The students talked about the experience in their class after the visit to Tent City 3, and are considering another visit later in the year.