As a teenager in Virginia, Christopher Wood found himself nearly living on the streets after his parents kicked him out of the house upon coming out of the closet. If it wasn’t for his measly flip phone he doesn’t know where he would be today. Wood used his phone to call a friend who found him a temporary place to say. He credits his simple flip phone as his life saver. Now he’s looking to save thousands of homeless LGBT teens through his Connect 4 Life program.
Connect 4 Life seeks to improve health and safety amongst LGBT homeless youth by bringing youth service agencies and the tech industry by providing cell phones to more than 5,000 LGBT youth in 200 cities.
According to a 2012 study, nearly 40 percent of America’s homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Homeless LGBT youth experience higher rates of depression, abuse, suicide and are more likely to engage in “survival sex” to meet basic needs.
The program has partnered with Cricket Wireless in distributing ZTE-brand smartphones with unlimited talk, text and 10GB of data to organizations that work directly with LGBT teens.
If the program succeeds, it could drastically change the lives of many homeless LGBT youth. The phones can also help other homeless youth warn each other about weather, crime areas or telling them about free meals and places to stay. Connect 4 Life launched a pilot program in Washington D.C. earlier this year but there’s no current information on the state and effects of the program.
(featured image via Tanya Dawn)