Simulation aims to provide glimpse of low-income life
FCSS to host poverty simulation on Aug. 26
Saturday, Aug 02, 2014 06:00 am
You can also contact Connie Smigielski at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 780-459-1507. Registration ends Aug. 6.
Choosing between paying the energy bill or buying food may not be part of many people’s regular dinner conversation, but there are some in the community who have to make this choice every day.
To create a better understanding of the challenges and day-to-day struggles of people living in poverty, Family and Community Support Services in St. Albert is hosting a free poverty simulation exercise.
The simulation, organized in collaboration with the United Way, will have participants replicate a month in the life of a low-income family.
“We just want everybody in St. Albert to have their eyes open and be aware that there are issues in the community. So we felt that this would be a really good way to do that,” said event organizer Connie Smigielski.
Participants of the simulation will be divided into family groups that can include anyone from a single mother, to two parents with two or more children, or a family with a member who lives with a disability, she said.
The families will role-play through different scenarios that involve interactions with each other, other families, and various institutions and businesses in the community.
Scenarios include going through issues with the bank, child welfare or getting into trouble with the law and dealing with the police, she said.
Sharon Mills, a family and school liaison social worker with FCSS who has participated in a similar exercise, said the families will have to make choices that can be emotionally and financially straining.
“In the family that I was in, I was one of the children and what I experienced was how my parents were so busy trying to survive that they hardly had time for me,” she said.
“It’s a powerful experience that creates understanding and empathy for the kinds of situations and dilemmas that poverty creates for families and individuals.”
Smigielski added that the simulation supports the implementation of the Cultivating a Community for All social master plan.
The plan was approved by city council in April 2013 and aims to reduce poverty and create social responsibility in the community, she said.
“I think in St. Albert those people dealing with poverty are hidden,” she said. “Doing a simulation like this in St. Albert is just one more way to bring awareness to communities that there are people who are struggling.”