More than 15 students and staff at Damascus College will tonight swap their warm beds for cardboard boxes and sleeping bags to get a taste of a different life.
The group are camping out at the school overnight to get an understanding of what life is like for the homeless.
To make the experience as real as possible, the group will be woken and moved on to find other places to sleep several times throughout the night, as people sleeping rough in the city are often forced to do.
It is the sixth year that Damascus College has run the Seeds of Justice Street-Wise Sleep Out, which raises money for the Ballarat Soup Bus and Uniting Care Ballarat and helps raise awareness of social justice issues among the school community.
Participants sought sponsorship from family and friends to raise money for the two charities.
"When you first tell people you will sleep outside in Ballarat overnight they look at you like you are a bit crazy, but when you explain to them the reason why you are doing it they start to think about how important it is," said year 11 student Hannah who is one of the rough sleepers.
The group will listen to representatives from Soup Bus and Uniting Care's Breezeway program after arriving at school before watching a movie about homelessness in New York and setting up their beds for the night.
"We've got blankets, sleeping bags and a few cardboard boxes. Some of us will just fold out a cardboard box as a mattress, others use them as a tent structure to block wind," Hannah said.
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Acting deputy principal Tony Haintz, one of the four staff sleeping out, said the experience raised funds and awareness to support those caught in the complex set of circumstances that can lead to homelessness.
"By their engagement in community development events, students develop within themselves the virtues of compassion, unity, justice and understanding.
"We don't expect kids to do it we invite them and fortunately we always get people who want to do that and have the experience."
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