Citizens invited to experience poverty to understand poverty

Participants and volunteers are wanted for the Community Action Poverty Simulation, a tool that community action agencies can use to educate everyone from policy makers to local community leaders about low-income families trying to survive with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress.

ECKAN (East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation) is sponsoring a simulation in Osage County, set for 9 a.m.-12 p.m. May 23, at the Osage County Senior Center.

The object of the simulation is to sensitize participants to day-to-day hardships faced by real people. Participants assume roles of families facing poverty. Some families are newly unemployed, some are deserted, some are homeless, and others are senior citizens receiving disability or retirement, or grandparents raising their grandchildren. The task of the participant families is to provide for basic necessities and shelter during the course of four 15-minute “weeks”.

The simulation is conducted in a large room with the families seated in groups in the center. Around the perimeter are tables representing community resources and services for the families. Represented services include a bank, super center, community action agency, employer, utility company, pawn broker, grocery, school and more.

The experience lasts 2.5 to 3 hours. It includes a briefing, the simulation exercise, and a debriefing, in which participants and volunteer staffers share feelings and experiences and talk about what they have learned about the lives of people in poverty. Post-experience surveys indicate more than 85 percent of participants reported an above average or high level of increased knowledge about the financial pressures faced by low-income families in meeting basic needs.

The simulation tool is made available by the Missouri Association for Community Action to organizations that want to promote a greater understanding of poverty.

To volunteer or participate, contact Kenna Burns, ECKAN’s Osage County coordinator, at 785-528-5184, email [email protected], or visit the office at 1137 Laing St., Osage City.


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