Poverty Simulation Set to Return to Campus

On July 22 and July 29, 2011 from 10:00 am to noon, Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC) will bring its poverty simulation back to Forest Institute's Springfield campus.

Statistics from 2005 show that over 37 million Americans (13 million of whom are children under 18) live in poverty each day. Many others have incomes above the poverty line, but are still low enough to qualify for programs like Food Stamps and Medicaid.

The poverty simulation is designed to make you ask questions like, what would you do if you had to decide between feeding your children and paying your mortgage, how would you handle losing your job and having no money to pay the bills, what would you do if you lost your car and could not get to work, etc.

Last year's poverty simulation made Forest students, faculty, and staff think big about these issues.

"I know it’s a cliché, but that was a life-changing experience.  It just gave me such a new perspective on people’s situations. Thank you for letting all of us be a part of it," said Admissions Counselor Bethany Ritter about last year's event.

In the simulation, participants assume roles in which they may face the challenge of being newly unemployed, recently deserted by the "breadwinner," a senior receiving social security and raising grandchildren, and a number of other scenarios.

The goal of each family is to survive a month without sacrificing basic needs while honoring financial obligations.

"I really did not know what to expect," said David Bauman who also attended last year's simulation.  "I was worried that I was not going to be able to connect, since I was assigned to be an elderly African American woman. However, as the simulation progressed, I began to forget that I was in a simulation and my only focus was on surviving the week."

This year all practicum students are required to attend the simulation on one of the two days it is offered.

It is hoped the simulation will open our minds to those dealing with poverty.  In Southwest Missouri alone, anywhere from nine to more than 17% of each county's population is living in poverty.

"Last year's simulation offered me an unforgettable and amazing experience - one that supplied me with the opportunity to get aglimpse of how day to day life is for individuals living in poverty.  The unique experience and perspective I gained through the simulation was invaluable, and I cannot wait to go through the simulation again," said Bauman.

You can sign up to attend one of the simulations at the library front desk.