Poverty Simulation to be Held April 14

March 29, 2011

Individuals will have the opportunity to experience what it is like living in poverty on Thursday, April 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Alliance Middle School. TANF Town, a poverty simulation, will allow people to role-play as members of low-income families.
In the simulation, 44 to 80 participants will assume the roles of up to 26 different families facing a variety of challenging, but typical circumstances. Some are homeless, disabled and unemployed, while others are suddenly faced with the responsibility of raising grandchildren. The experiential learning activity will last about two hours and includes an introduction and briefing by Jan Webler, retired Alliance City School administrator and facilitator of the event. Following the poverty simulation, a debriefing will be held in which participants and volunteers can share what they have learned.
What should someone expect if he or she decides to participate in the poverty simulation?
  • Report promptly at 5:50 p.m. to Alliance Middle School.
  • Pick up nametag and proceed to assigned “family home” in the cafeteria. 
  • Each family will be provided with a packet of information including identification cards, transportation passes, money and other items that will be needed throughout the simulation.
  • Each family will receive a card explaining its unique situation and a small amount of “money.”
  • Together, families must fulfill the stressful task of providing for basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget during the course of four 15-minute “weeks.” 
  • Resource providers, such as social workers, loan officers, employers, pawnbrokers, grocers, utility collectors, police officers and teachers will be available as a resource within the cafeteria. 
When asked why this educational event is important, Heather Eichner, Ohio Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA at Mount Union noted that “nearly 43.6 million Americans, many of who are children under the age of 18, live in poverty every day,” she said. “Many more have incomes above the poverty line, but their incomes are still low enough to qualify for programs like Food Stamps and Medicaid. It is difficult for those of us who have enough to truly understand the situations that our families living in poverty experience every day – the decisions they have to make and the fears and frustrations they feel.”
Although play money is used, TANF Town is not a game. It is a simulation that enables participants to look at poverty from a variety of angles and then to recognize and discuss the potential for change within their local communities. The simulation is designed to promote sensitivity and create a broader awareness of the realities of poverty among policymakers, community leaders and citizens, among others.
TANF Town is an offshoot of the Alliance Summit for Alleviating Poverty, which is being supported by the University of Mount Union’s Ralph and Mary Regula Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement, the City of Alliance, local churches, non-profits and civic organizations.
The simulation activity can accommodate up to 80 participants, and is free and open to the public. Participants must RSVP by Saturday, April 9 in order to participate. Those interested can register for TANF Town at the Alliance Summit for Alleviating Poverty on April 9 at the Union Avenue United Methodist Church or by calling Chris Pontius at (330) 823-3296.
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