What is a Poverty Simulation?
Millions of Americans, many whom are children under the age of 18, live in poverty every day. While this affects communities all across the country, and while we may seem removed from it, the reality is this is happening in your local communities. Many more have incomes above the poverty line, but their incomes are still low enough to qualify for programs like SNAP and Medicaid.
It is difficult for those of us who have enough to truly understand the situations that families living in poverty experience every-day – the decisions they have to make, and the fears and frustrations they feel.
Using a poverty simulation kit, participants role-play the lives of low-income families. Some are TANF recipients, some are disabled, and others are senior citizens on Social Security. They have the stressful task of providing for 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 officer and others. Taking part in a poverty simulation allows participants to walk a mile in the shoes of those facing poverty.
The simulation enables participants to look at poverty from a variety of angles and then to recognize and discuss the potential for change within their local communities. The simulation was designed to sensitize those who frequently deal with low-income families as well as to create a broader awareness of poverty among policymakers, community leaders, and others.