BUCKHANNON — West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Poverty Reduction Team hosted a poverty simulation on Thursday, November 7. This simulation was held in order to make everyone more aware of how those living in poverty feel as they are struggling to survive.
Many of the students that participated were broken into groups. Each group was a family and had their own complex issues. Each fifteen-minute interval counted as a week and families participated in four of these, making up a hypothetical month.
Simulated community programs including a bank, pawn shop, school, the Department of Health and Human Resources and many more were set up around the room to be utilized by the families. A makeshift jail was also set up for families that were caught leaving their children home, so they could work. Some people were even taken to jail for selling drugs, which were really Splenda packets, to help provide for their families.
Some started the simulation with more in their packets to utilize, such as transportation passes and objects that could be pawned during difficult times.
Ammanda Frame, the coordinator of the Poverty Reduction Team, described why the event was so important and what it aimed to accomplish. “It’s been about two years since we’ve done it and I feel like it’s one of those things that you have to be really careful with because you have to understand it’s not a game, it’s a simulation,” Frame said. She explained, “They are taking the statistics from actual people’s lives and the situations they have to go through.”
The simulation was a way to display the issues and choices that many people in poverty face every day. As the weeks go on in the simulation, things become more difficult for the families to make choices on how to survive. “They start to panic because they’re like ‘How do I make this work?’, so I think that they come to realize that it’s not easy for people to live on disability or unemployment,” Frame stated.
Frame hopes that the poverty simulation raises awareness about poverty and she hopes that the team will receive more opportunities to reach out to the community and help those in need.