SLEEPING ROUGH: Year 3 student from St Joseph's Primary School at Alstonville, Hudson McGarry, joined another 67 students at the school in challenge to raise awareness and funds to support homeless people.
SLEEPING ROUGH: Year 3 student from St Joseph's Primary School at Alstonville, Hudson McGarry, joined another 67 students at the school in challenge to raise awareness and funds to support homeless people. Graham Broadhead

No food, no water, no talking, no toilet breaks

ANY parent would know it can be hard to keep young children still for a few minutes, let alone an hour.

Add to that restrictions on no talking, no drinking, no eating, no going to the toilet and only a piece of cardboard to sit on.

Impossible!

But 68 students from kindergarten through to Year 6 at St Joseph's Primary School at Alstonville took up that challenge last Friday to raise money for St Vincent de Paul Society's homeless support programs.

School chaplain Lyn Rowling came up with the idea for the challenge last year, and decided to continue it this year, with students electing to take part.

She said this was based on the principle of "walking in other people's shoes".

The students were sponsored to see how long they could keep quiet, not talk and not eat or drink anything.

"It's so they can see what it's like to live on the street, not have any friends, not have any social interaction and not have any food," Ms Rowling said.

While there was a lot of squirming, the students were taking the challenge seriously, and so were the supervisors, giving warnings for the first time the rules were broken.

Later, students from Years 4 to 6 had a winter sleepover, and spent the time preparing care packages for homeless people with donated toiletries which parents had collected at hotels while on holidays.

St Vincent de Paul Society currently is renovating Harmony House in Ballina to be turned into a drop-in centre and transitional accommodation for homeless people.

Executive office of Vinnies in the region, Michael Timbrell earlier this year said Ballina was a hotspot for homelessness on the North Coast, with more than 200 people living homeless in town.