Poverty Simulation, Eye-Opening Experience

Can you put yourself in the shoes of a homeless seven-year-old student?

Teachers, staff, and community partners recently participated in a poverty simulation led by Covington Partners. Taking place during Covington Schools' PD Academy, participants took on roles of members of over 20 families, all facing a variety of challenging, but typical, circumstances during a month-long poverty simulation.

While each week of the month only lasted fifteen minutes during the simulation, participants embraced their roles--whether a grandparent raising grandchildren, a single parent, a young adult caring for underage siblings, etc. Throughout the four weeks, participants stepped into real-life situations of others, realizing the complexity and interconnected issues of poverty. For example, a single parent with limited resources and no transportation must find a way to get to work and get their child to daycare.

Throughout the simulation, several community resources, including a bank, grocery store, mortgage company, pawn shop, school, healthcare, and community action agency, are provided and manned with volunteers.

The simulation provided a way to promote poverty awareness, increase the understanding of poverty, and transform perspectives.

Kate Andriacco, simulation volunteer and previous participant, said that "as an experiential learning activity, the poverty simulation is often an eye-opening experience for many individuals." She herself has felt this each time she has been a participant or volunteer of the simulation. "It is an activity that can create greater awareness and understanding for persons living in poverty, while simultaneously calling into question individuals' personal beliefs and biases surrounding the intersection of social class, race, crime, education, law, and family in our society."

Covington Partners plans to offer the poverty simulation at the beginning of each school year for new and existing staff.

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