College students experience poverty situations
by Debbie Rolen
Some local college students and college students on a Spring Break trip experienced a small sampling of daily challenges facing struggling families who live below the poverty line.
The New Covenant Fellowship hosted the event, which included youth from Philadelphia along with students from Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.
In addition to the students, various local organizations including PRIDE and LEAD participated.
PRIDE Executive Director Reginald Jones and two staff members (Deena Toth and Caron Burgess) were certified to be facilitators in 2009.
Jones said, “We trained with the Missouri Association of Community Action to obtain the certification, equipping ourselves and our agency with another tool to educate and inform people about the seriousness and difficulties created from living in poverty. The Poverty Simulation experience is designed to help participants begin to understand what it might be like to lie in a typical low-income family trying o survive from month to month. It is a simulation, not a game. The object is to sensitize participants to the realities faced by low-income individuals and families.”
Jones explained this particular simulation was conducted in conjunction with the Appalachian Institute of Wheeling Jesuit University, whose mission is to work toward the goal of safer, healthier, and stronger communities in the central Appalachian region.
A group of 40 students from Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Penn. and Boston College in Boston, Mass., are in Logan this week.
While the students are here Students are here, they are perform a number of community service related projects. They have participated in a dilapidated building demolition and the Poverty Simulation so far this week, and are told each morning what the day’s activities will be.
Abby Riviello, a 21-year-old student at St. Joseph’s University says this is her third year to participate in the Spring Break mission trip through her school and her first visit to Logan.
“What makes Logan different from the other trips I’ve been on is the community,” said Riviello, “There are more people who are involved here and I really like that.”
PRIDE Executive Director Reginald Jones gave instructions and guidance to participants who had been divided into “families.” The families went through a very brief four weeks of living in poverty.
Each family was given a “scenario,” which described challenges the family was facing. Each had to play the role of a single person or family member who was trying to survive living poor or impoverished.
They were confronted with real life trials and unexpected events in addition to finding work, keeping an apartment or home, making sure all bills were paid, taking care of children and medical or health needs and keeping food to eat. Some of the challenges were getting out or jail or getting a family member out of jail or juvenile hall, evictions, robberies, having to pawn possessions or take out loans.
“It is a great learning experience for these kids, and I am really proud Logan is the city helping these kids out and hosting this simulation,” said Jones, “Any group or organization interested in hosting a Poverty Simulation should contact me here at PRIDE.”
For more information, visit PRIDE at 699 Stratton Street or the website prideinlogan.com or call 304-752-6868.
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