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It’s not easy ‘out there’ at a young age

Updated: 2014-01-22T22:40:06Z

By ELAINE ADAMS

The Kansas City Star

We all laughed at the Matthew McConaughey movie “Failure to Launch,” about the guy in his mid-30s who was still living with his folks.

In today’s 816 cover story, we learn about young people forced to launch at a much earlier age. Before they finish high school even.

It’s rarely a smooth trajectory, and some become homeless as teens and young adults. You may see a few living under bridges or curling up in doorways. But often, they aren’t visible to the rest of us. They “surf” from house to house, couch to couch.

Many factors contribute to youth homelessness, but they often come down to family dysfunction or conflict with parents.

Inside these pages, writer Jerry LaMartina will introduce you to two of these teenagers and show you how they’re trying to move forward.

It’s a story that resonates with me. I’m close to a young person who hasn’t taken the comfortable route from high school to college to job. I’ve seen how difficult it is with only entry-level skills, especially in a crippled economy.

I also remember how immature I was at 18, 19 and 20, and I marvel at how people of that age manage to survive “out there” on their own, when one unexpected expense can put them out on the street.

The young person I know has a family to turn to in a crisis, but what if he didn’t?

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