Several university students will be spending the next five days living on the streets to raise money and awareness for Youth Empowerment and Support Services (YESS).

“They will be staying outside for five days on a concrete floor with a piece of cardboard, a sleeping bag, a pillow and that’s it,” MacEwan University spokesperson, David Beharry, explained.

The campaign, 5 Days for the Homeless, started at the University of Alberta (U of A) and went national in 2008. This year, both U of A and MacEwan students will be taking part.

Students are still required to complete all academic assignments and exams they have scheduled.

They will also not be allowed to purchase anything to eat or drink.

“They are trying to show others the importance of helping people who are homeless because it could be anybody,” Beharry said.

“There are other 19-year-old youth that don’t have a home to go to, they don’t have a bed, they don’t have a warm meal when they want one,” participant Josh Tang explained.

“Once you begin to understand that you really start to realize why participants like us want to do this campaign.”

Twenty-one year old U of A participant Maryna Vysotski agrees.

“It could’ve been anybody going to those shelters. It could have been me. It could have been any of my six teammates.”

She said she was interested to see what it was like to live in someone else’s shoes and get a new perspective.

According to the website, the event has raised over $985,000 Canada-wide.

Students from MacEwan hope to raise $20,000 while those participating from the U of A are aiming for $30,000.

With files from Jeff Harrington