In late August, Union City Area School District teachers and staff participated in GECAC’s poverty simulation in order to better understand the tough decisions, fear and frustrations low-income families in their community face every day.
Poverty is often portrayed as a standalone issue – but this simulation allows individuals to walk a month in the shoes of someone who is facing poverty. For example, a single parent with no transportation must find a way to get to work and get their child to daycare or a young adult must care for three siblings while their parent is incarcerated.
When asked about her experience with the simulation, Maureen Williams, Physical Education teacher (grades 6-12) said, “It was really eye opening because I didn’t realize how frustrating it can be to try and make sure you had everything you need. I felt defeated, hopeless.”
When asked what from this experience she may take back into the classroom, she said, “I am going to be more aware of what the kids are going through, and be less cut and dry (you have to do this, this and this), and provide more leeway than maybe what was previously given."
Stacey Dell, Director of Curriculum and Special Programs was instrumental in bringing GECAC’s poverty simulation to Union City. “I had the opportunity to do this exact simulation a few years ago when I was in Florida in a very economically destitute school district, and it was very emotional. As I was participating in the simulation as one of the kids in one of the homes, I was thinking about the students I was working with on a daily basis. This was not a game to them but their reality.”
She added, “A lot of us know that there are services out there, but to have to live through it, the exhaustion, and finding those resources and that help and then have life trauma thrown at you makes for a more realistic understanding and makes it less abstract.