Poverty Simulation Training

Poverty is a reality for many individuals and families. However, unless you have experienced poverty, it is difficult to truly understand. The Poverty Simulation is an interactive immersion experience. It sensitizes participants to the realities of poverty. 

Participants take on the role of a person living in a low-income community. They are given a packet that tells them what their family structure and circumstances are, and gives them the family’s financial situation. (For example, they may be playing the role of a single dad of 2 kids, ages 10 and 13. The dad has a part-time job that pays $60/week; the rent on their apartment is $150/month, and other expenses are spelled out.) 

Other participants play the roles of business and agencies in the community: the bank, the employer, the pawnshop, etc. 

Participants playing family roles must get through four 15-minute “weeks” and do what families everywhere do – go to work if they have a job, get any kids to school, feed the family, pay the bills, keep the family safe. Challenges arise in the course of the “month” to which families must also respond. 

After the “month” is over, we do an extensive debriefing discussion. Typically, participants have a strong need to talk about how challenging it was, what particular issues came up for them, and what they realized in the course of the simulation. We spend time talking about the impact of what we have learned on decisions about community service, as well as simply moving through life. 

Poverty Simulation is made possible through a collaboration between Placer County Health and Human Services, Placer County Office of Education, The Campaign For Community Wellness and Resilient Placer 

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