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April 28, 2014
“I never realized.” That was the most common response from students as they reflected on the poverty simulation experience at Poudre High School on March 7th, 2014. During the simulation, students went through four 15-minute “weeks” in poverty. This experience reveals the challenging reality for those in poverty to achieve self-sufficiency. Students were given specific roles as adults or children in families from low and moderate income households. They interacted with their teachers who played the roles of the community members, representing bill collectors, school administrators, employers, service providers, and other people they would encounter in daily life.
The bell rings at the end of each week. “Did you feed your family?” “How many of you had transportation?” “Were you able to keep your job?” Time is short. Lines are long. The students begin to reveal their frustration as they struggle to “make ends meet.” At the end of the 4 weeks, most students feel defeated. Feelings of stress and disempowerment at the end of the simulation evoke emotion and thoughtful reflection. It is during this reflection that participants reveal a deeper connection to what is reality for manyin our community. For these students, we hope that this experience is something that has inspired them to advocate, volunteer, and speak up for less fortunate individuals at a young age in order to make a positive difference in Larimer County.
Mary Ann Bayer has been volunteering with United Way as a Poverty Simulation facilitator since 2012. She has facilitated about a dozen simulations with hundreds of individuals in Larimer County. She has a history of teaching as well as working with individuals in poverty. As a volunteer facilitator, she is able to help the community become aware of an important issue that she is passionate about. In her words, “The simulation gives participants a personal, emotional experience that connects them with a real issue.” During the reflection at the end, Mary Ann hears things like: “I never realized transportation was so difficult;” “Now I understand some of the challenges my employees go through;” “I had no idea what to do;” and “This experience made me want to see how I can help.”
With 1 in 7 people in Larimer County living in poverty, this issue hits close to home for all of us. Join us in our bold goal to cut poverty in half by 2025 by creatingawareness around Larimer County's poverty struggle. Here are some ways you can join us in our advocacy efforts:
• Become a poverty simulation volunteer facilitator.
• Participate in a simulation as a resource actor or participant.
For more information on how to get involved or for any questions, please contact Aubrie Fletcher at 970.407.7055.
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County