Monday, November 10, 2008

Poverty simulations help to show what the poor go through

Poverty simulations are often held here in the states to give those who work for the poor some perspective. Social workers, teachers and others get a peek into the lives of the poor by playing the part of fictional characters who are down on their luck.

In a story filed by Amy Flowers Umble for the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star, the participants of the simulations gave in to stealing, or selling drugs as the simulation progressed.

Participants lived a month in an hour, with each week divided into 15 minutes. They had to navigate the world of pawn shops, payday loans, utility companies, schools, banks, social services, child care, the homeless shelter and the grocery store.

"I felt like I lived my life in a line," said Stephen Batsche, president of Rappahannock United Way.

Others who took part in the simulation said that throughout the fake month, they felt fearful, hopeless, depressed, stressed, frustrated and empty.

Carolyn Saunders, who works at the Thurman Brisben Center and spent her hour as Ben Boling, said she felt "overwhelmed."

Those who volunteered as social service workers, directors of interfaith services and homeless shelters, said they, too, felt frustrated.

"I wanted to give them money out of my own pocket," said Victoria Clark, who portrayed the social services receptionist.

Linell Swader, an eligibility worker for Stafford County's Department of Social Services, said her hour of poverty gave her more empathy for the people who come to her.

That number has tripled in the past month, she said.

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