ALLIANCE — Coordinated by retired educator Jan Webler, students from the University of Mount Union participated in a simulation that was offered as part of a Stark Community Foundation Protecting Stark’s Future grant held by the University.
Held at Parkway Elementary, participants included teacher candidates from the University, representatives from non-profit agencies and community leaders interested in learning about poverty. The simulation included role-playing a month in the life of someone living in a poverty or low-income situation. The experience helped participants to understand the challenges and hard decisions individuals face every day when living in such circumstances, noting the resiliency and grit displayed.
“The poverty simulation was extremely beneficial and educational, providing practical insight into the struggles that low-income families face every day,” said Josh Palmer ’22, of Kent, Ohio. “It is impossible to understand the myriad of struggles that must be endured when living below the poverty line without attempting to live from that perspective. A plethora of factors exist beyond an individual’s control that restrict them from raising their socioeconomic status. The poverty simulation taught me that sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you work or how diligently you budget your money, you are likely to still come up short.”
The planning grant received by Dr. Kristine Still, founding dean of the College of Applied and Social Sciences, and Abby Schroeder, director of Mount Union’s Regula Center, has brought agencies and community members together monthly for discussions, training, and planning. The collaboration has provided space for agencies to think about how they can support one another while offering free professional development opportunities like this simulation.
“As a non-profit organization, being able to experience the simulation and working alongside others truly gave a deeper understanding of what poverty means and what roles support agencies have in fighting poverty,” shared Stacie Weimer, executive director of the Alliance YWCA.
Learn more about community opportunities through the Regula Center by visiting mountunion.edu/regula-center.