Poverty Simulation Aims to Open Eyes

It is hard for many to imagine the true struggles of life below the poverty line because we are so conditioned to our ways of life and having the basic needs of living at our fingertips. Poverty is a harsh reality for millions of people throughout the U.S. as well as people that we see and interact with in our everyday lives. Not only is it a struggle at the time but can leave lasting impacts on people well after they have risen above the poverty line.

The Center for Public Health Practice at IUPUI feels that it is important to host an event in hopes of opening the public’s eye to the harsh realities, fears, and frustrations that people living below the poverty line feel every day. In an effort to shine a light on these struggles, they decided to host their second poverty simulation here on the IUPUI campus this past Monday, Feb. 18 from 1-4 p.m. in the campus center.

Andrea Janota, a program coordinator for the Center for Public Health Practice,helped organize  this simulation with hopes to make it as realistic as possible for the participants.

While poverty simulations like this take place in numerous places throughout the U.S. every year, Janota said that the idea of bringing it to our campus was proposed by Dr. Joan Duwve, the associate Dean of Public Health Practice here at IUPUI. With the help of IUPUI Professor Ross Silverman, who has participated in the organization of poverty simulations elsewhere in the past, the Center for Public Health Practice was able to host their first event in November of 2018.

One of the many goals that the Center had for this simulation was to make the experience as real as possible for the participants. To do so, Andrea, as well as other organizers, recruited real sociologists from our campus to volunteer to help bring a deeper understanding of the realities of poverty and used real organizations like the Indiana Members Credit Union to be the bankers of the community.

“We not only want this event to affect the students and members of the university, but we hope that members of the general public and surrounding community to have the opportunity to come in and experience it as well.”

The event brought in 90 people in all, with about 30 volunteers, 5 staff members of the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health and around 60 participants of the simulation. The turnout was about the same for both events with a mix of university members and members of the community.

The Center for Public Health Practice hopes that by having a better understanding of poverty and its everyday challenges, it will change the mindset of many and provide a better chance at finding effective solutions in reducing poverty. The next poverty simulation will be taking place again April 9th, the organizers are still looking for volunteers for the event this time around.

If you have an interest in volunteering, you are welcome to contact Andrea Janota at ajanota@iu.edu or, another organizer of the event, Marcie Memmer at mlmemmer@iu.edu.  For more information or questions about this event visit their website at: https://fsph.iupui.edu/research-centers/centers/public-health-practice/poverty-simulations.html

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