By Tia Lynn Ivey
Two Madison City Councilwomen collaborated with the Morgan County Family Connection agency to bring a “poverty simulation” demonstration to bring awareness to the community over the realities impoverished people face on a daily basis.
According to Velde Hardy, Family Connection coordinator, “The Poverty Simulation Workshop is a role-playing experience that offers an opportunity to learn more about the realities of living in conditions of poverty. It is a simulation, not a game. Participants enter the workshop with a new identify and family profile. The task of the ‘families’ is to provide for basic necessities and shelter during the course of four 15-minutes weeks. The Poverty Simulation Workshop will open people’s eyes to the human cost of poverty.”
Councilwoman Carrie Peters-Reid wanted to bring this demonstration to Madison to help community leaders better understand poverty.
“I go to a lot of meetings since joining the council and I was surprised to learn how little people know about the struggles people in poverty face,” explained Reid. “A lot of people think that poor people just want to live that way and won’t try to change their lives, but a lot of people are thrust into the position they are in and it becomes nearly impossible to get out of it.”
“We wanted people to see what the daily life looks like when you don’t have certain resources,” said Councilwoman Chris Hodges.
“We have poor people in our county and it’s important for us to know how tough life can be and the kind of obstacles they are up against just to make it each day.”
According to Family Connection, 24 percent of Morgan County children live in poverty and 11 percent of Morgan County children do not have health insurance.
“We really wanted people to be aware of the plight people in poverty face,” said Hardy. “The simulation was to show just one month of in the life of poverty. People don’t realize the difficult choices must make. What do you do when you need to work but you can’t afford childcare and you are a single mother? What do you do when you have an elderly or disabled parent to care but you also need to work to pay the bills? How do you keep a job when you can’t afford a car or transportation? These are the struggles people wrestle with everyday in our community.”
According to Reid, the community cannot help those in poverty until they can empathize with the struggle.
“The event helped people think about poverty in a way they hadn’t before. It was just a small glimpse into the life of a person who is struggling, using any means necessary to get enough resources together to make it,” said Reid. “You have to be determined and motivated to get out of poverty and you have to have community support to help along the way.”