The North East Community Action Corporation (NECAC) hosted a poverty simulation at Macon R-I High School on Friday, Dec. 14.
Sixty-two students enrolled in Richelle Shoemaker’s three personal finance classes attended the simulation.
“This is the first time we have done this at MHS,” said Shoemaker. “NECAC approached our Principal, Jeff Haley and he thought it sounded like a good idea.”
According to NECAC Public Relations Officer Brent Engel, the agency has been sponsoring the program for several years in several of their 12-county service area.
“The simulation puts the students in the role of everyday people,” said Engel. “It teaches kids what it is like to walk in another’s shoes.”
The goal was to show the participants just how hard it is for many families to make ends meet. In 15-minute sessions the students learned how difficult it is for low-income families to meet housing, childcare, medical expenses and to provide the basic necessities and face other obstacles.
“Many students already have seen or felt the effects of poverty in their homes or communities, but this event will hammer home what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes, even if just for a few minutes,” said NECAC Macon County Service Coordinator Terri Laughlin.
Some scenarios during the course of the simulation included needing bail for a family member in jail, having family services called in for forgetting to pick up a child from daycare and being evicted from their home.
Some resources tables set up around the perimeter of the room included: a homeless shelter, child care center, pay day loan place, mortgage, realty and utility company, pawn shop, social services, a bank and supermarket.
“So many families are struggling these days to make ends meet, and programs such as the poverty simulation can show people who weren’t aware of the problem just how serious it is,” said Laughlin.