Poverty Simulation in Emporia, Kansas

January 26th in Emporia Gazette—A great article about the poverty simulation was published the day after Family Promise and ECKAN held the simulation.  Please check it out.   http://www.emporiagazette.com/area_news/article_1c696324-80a3-5b89-911b-e50aae94609d.html  This coordinator was slightly misquoted but, it was close.  This coordinator said it is not personal deficiencies that are the cause of poverty and the gazette published not personal “decisions.”

One highlight from the article—

“This experience was a super positive experience,” he said. “It’s really cool being able to play characters. This time I was a 16-year-old pregnant woman and my boyfriend was there, so we were trying to hang out quite a bit. For an older economist that’s sometimes a bit of a challenge, but sometimes we forget about the dire circumstances people face when they’re in poverty.”

Catlett said, overall, the simulation reinforced his belief that poverty does not have to exist in today’s society.

“We don’t have to have poverty,” Catlett said. “President (John) Kennedy’s inaugural speech said we’ve got the power to destroy the Earth, which means we’ve also got the power to eliminate poverty. We’ve got one of the most affluent societies on the planet and we still struggle with poverty, and that’s inexcusable from my perspective.”

ECKAN Human Services Coordinator Julia Wilson, who moderated the event, told participants that more than 6,300 Emporians currently live in poverty. With a population of just less than 25,000, that amounts to a 25.5 percent poverty level in the city. Wilson said last week 16 homeless people came to her office seeking assistance. That, she said, was reason enough to keep pushing for anti-poverty programs.

“We can’t just give up on anti-poverty efforts,” she said. “It can be the easy way out to say we’ve been offering food assistance for so long and now so many people depend on it, and they’re just not motivated. I just don’t think that’s the case. It’s not individual decisions that create poverty. It’s time to take a step back and think about how we can change our approach and keep trying.”

Community Presentations or Other Outreach Activities:

The Poverty Simulation with Family Promise on January 25th went extremely well!  ECKAN brought attention to the realities of poverty and Family Promise gained much needed attention and support for their efforts to start housing homeless families inside local churches.  At the end of the simulation a woman who is now a professor at the college came up to this coordinator and reported that she grew up in extreme poverty and said it was just like the simulation.  This was great reinforcement and motivating.  Another poverty simulation is already in the works as a result of connections made at this simulation for the staff at Walnut Elementary school.