Take the Poverty Challenge- Community Action Poverty Simulation at HCL on May 6
Alabama is the seventh poorest state in the nation, and 900,000 Alabamians—including 300,000 of our children—live below the federal poverty line. Poverty is not a game. It’s a reality for people in our own backyard.
On Wednesday, May 6, the public is invited to learn what it’s like to live in poverty through participation in the Poverty Challenge: Community Action Poverty Simulation. The event, which will be from 1-4 p.m. at Jacksonville State University's Houston Cole Library, is sponsored by Alabama Possible.
The Community Action Poverty Simulation is a unique, interactive experience that helps facilitate understanding of the challenges faced by individuals in our community who are living at or below the poverty level. The simulation increases participants’ understanding of hardships, the emotional toll experienced by low-income families, and the work it takes to achieve self-sufficiency. The Poverty Simulation sensitizes those who frequently deal with low-income families and creates a broader awareness of poverty’s realities among policy-makers, business and community leaders, students, faculty, administrators, and more. By looking at poverty from a variety of angles, they can recognize and discuss the potential to reduce it in their own community.
The Community Action Poverty Simulation was created as a way to help business and community leaders; students, faculty, and administrators; faith-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and others understand the realities of poverty. During the simulation, participants role-play the lives of families living at or below the poverty level. Participants will experience typical challenges faced by low-income families, including maintaining employment, caring for children or elderly family members, seeking public assistance, and dealing with transportation issues.
The simulation involves 44-80 participants who take on the roles of members of 26 families, all facing a variety of challenging, yet typical, circumstances. Participants are seated in family clusters, and community resources are located at tables around the perimeter of the room. The simulation includes an introduction and briefing by a facilitator, the simulation exercise, and a facilitated debriefing in which participants and volunteers share what they have learned about living in poverty. A full simulation takes last approximately two hours. During the simulation, participants role-play the lives of those who may have fallen on hard times. Some will be TANF recipients, some will be disabled, and some will play the role of senior citizens on Social Security. They have the stressful task of securing basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget during the course of four, 15-minute “weeks.” They interact with human service agencies, grocers, pawnbrokers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers and others.