On Tuesday, March 6th, approximately 45 students from the WKU College of Health and Human Services participated in Community Action of Southern Kentucky's 2-hour Poverty Simulation.
Sponsored by South Central Kentucky Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and staffed by volunteers from the College and community, the powerful experiential activity gave students the opportunity to experience the day-to-day challenges of living in poverty.
Through the course of the "month,"" students", and "families" were challenged to pay their bills on time on limited incomes, get their kids to school, juggle day care, and make appointments, while faced with a series of unexpected crises.
Dr. Simon Funge, an Assistant Professor of Social Work at WKU, who helped recruit participants and volunteers for the simulation, observed that "It's one thing for our students to sit in a classroom learning about the underlying causes and consequences of poverty; but it's another for them to experience the visceral day-to-day stresses of living in this circumstance.
While it's only a simulation, students often remark in the debrief about how challenging, frustrating, and stressful it was for them to just get by; and without fail make the connection between their experience in the simulation and the daily lives of their future clients who are often the most economically vulnerable in the community." As one student participant reflected, "[it] really opened my mind and had me look from a completely different perspective. That was so helpful!"
It's for this reason that Community Action and AHEC plan to continue delivering the powerful Poverty Simulation to members of the CHHS community.