In the school year of 2015-16, there were over 10,000 homeless youth enrolled in schools across the St. Louis region. Youth Homelessness is not associated with a single population, but rather can affect a variety of populations across America. Anyone at any moment can find themselves facing the reality of being homeless.

This topic was chosen in collaboration with local youth and the Social System Design Lab with the intent of fostering a transformative learning environment for the participants of the Changing Systems Youth Summit.

During the month of June, 10 local high school students were chosen to be fellows. They were trained in System Dynamic tools, and taught how to facilitate a group model building session with their peers. These fellows then planned and prepared for the Changing Systems Youth Summit in all aspects. They planned social media campaigns, prepared simulation models, and began to research service learning.

During this preparation, they came up with the following goals of the summit in relation to the topic of Youth Homelessness:

To develop systems thinking capabilities and group model building facilitation skills in youth.

To understand the youth perspective on issues of community importance.

To create opportunities and supports for youth to develop their capabilities as leaders, problem solvers, and responsible decision makers.

To devise a service learning project to implement within the St. Louis community to activate change, raise awareness, and take responsibility for their ideas and insights of the issue.

The Changing Systems Youth Summit had a close and insightful crowd of 12 local STL youth participants that had direct experience with the issue of youth homelessness. The teens were divided into three groups. SSDL Youth Fellows then led group model building activities with scripts to develop causal maps (causal loop diagrams) of youth homelessness in their communities.