Monday, October 26, 2009

Poverty Simulation Workshops

We all know poverty is a world problem, however it is also a local and national problem. In order to better understand how someone might become and deal with living in poverty in the United States, 5 Western Michigan University social work students participated in a 1 month simulation of being a poor family. The program is called Poverty Reduction Initiative, or PRI. They had to go through ways to pay the bills when 1 parent is laid off, a daughter becomes pregnant, as well as other realistic situations. They found that often once one thing goes wrong, life gets harder and your family is more prone to remaining in poverty. Interest rates go up, becoming further in debt and trying to just make it through the day. The students played the roles of the family while a team of social workers and volunteers that have previously been in poverty played the roles of policemen, bankers and teachers. At the end of the simulation, the students were asked to complete a questionnaire ranging if they thought that people in poverty did not value education or if all poor people participate in illegal drugs. The workshop is hoping to explain more to people on what it is like to be poor, and that it really can happen to anyone. Many gained empathy and understanding, and hopefully will now try and help both people locally and globally to reduce the amount of people that have to deal with these strains.
-Sara Frodge