How eerie mannequins are making people pay attention to a problem right in front of them.

Once all the life-size, huddled, hoodie-wearing mannequins are in place on the streets, Karen McHenry prepares to deliver her message using her bullhorn.

A group of people place slouched and hooded mannequins in public spaces around downtown Cleveland.

Why are they carrying them like that? What is this all about? What do the slogans on their sweatshirts say?


The reactions from the people walking by them say it all. They look confused, concerned, and slightly disturbed.

Watch the video, and see how long it takes for you to figure out what's happening:

This short video from Bellefair JCB might only be a minute long, but it sheds a much-needed light on people and issues that can seem invisible when we're not paying attention — even in places full of people.

The "Take a Closer Look" campaign wants to increase awareness of this problem to encourage a greater sense of empathy and compassion. The goal is to get pedestrians to notice and try to help the mannequins, who represent the huge population of young people living on the streets.

If you take a closer look, on each mannequin's hoodie is written a reason why young people might find themselves out on the street.

One sweatshirt reads: "My dad kicked me out because I'm gay."

Another says: "My mom's boyfriend hurts me."

Another hoodie's heartbreaking message is poignant: "I'm missing and my parents don't care."

Sometimes it takes uncomfortable and dramatic images like people walking past these mannequins without a second thought to remind us to think twice about how we can help homeless youth.

You never know what circumstances led up to a teen becoming homeless.

There are about 1.3 million homeless youth in the U.S. on any given night, and many don't have a choice.

This video is a powerful reminder that homeless youth are around us, often in plain sight. It's up to us to take a closer look and offer help when we can.

Maybe the next time you're out in public and see someone young, lost, and living on the street — offer a helping hand. You may be exactly what they need to turn their life around.

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Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

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