Poverty simulation provides insight for leadership class

Published 1:41 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2016

AMERICUS — Advancing Sumter Leadership Training participants recently experienced what life is like for families with limited resources. They participated in a poverty simulation conducted by UGA Family and Consumer Sciences agents, Mitzi Parker, Sumter County, and Ann Centner, Early County. These agents directed the simulation like a reality-show with a story line, miscellaneous props and fake money.
The event was planned by the Sumter Archway Partnership. To make the simulation realistic, 27 volunteers were recruited to play the rolls of community resource providers, teachers, police officers, bankers, mortgage company owners, pawn brokers, child care providers, utility providers, etc.
Many of the volunteers came from Sumter Family Connection, a collaborative of local professionals working in various health, education and social service areas. Volunteers also came from Advancing Sumter Leadership alumni, Georgia Southwestern State University and the Sumter Senior 4-H Club.
During the poverty simulation, Advancing Sumter participants were organized into family clusters; each family was given a small amount of money and a “script” explaining their situation for each of the four-week periods. Families attempted to secure food, shelter, medical help, day care and other necessities during the simulation.
Following the simulation, a de-briefing allowed participants and volunteers to share what they learned.
A member of the Advancing Sumter Leadership 2016 cohort, Robin Humphreys said: “The poverty simulation exercise was eye-opening in many ways … Without knowledge of available resources, I struggled a lot more than I could have. I imagine this is also true for a lot of the families for whom that simulation is a daily reality.”
Andrea Tatum, another Advancing Sumter Leadership class member, said: “Being a participant in the poverty simulation really brought out the reality of the situation … It was more shocking during the debriefing as everyone shared their situations … ”
Lauren Busman, a Sumter Senior 4-H Club member, said: “It was interesting to watch and participate in the poverty simulation. I played the role of schoolteacher, and I learned that school children’s behavior and actions are affected by what they experience at home and in the classroom … ”
Shelia Hines, a Sumter County Family Connection board member, also volunteered as a role-player. She commented: “Participating in a poverty simulation will definitely motivate you to become more involved in reducing poverty in your community!”
As part of the leadership class curriculum for the evening, Andrea Oates, Ed.D., provided a quiz on local demographics, then a copy of Sumter County’s socio-demographic profile with population, education, income and other vital statistics. This overview tied the poverty simulation experience to local economic conditions.
The Advancing Sumter Leadership program is a grass roots leadership program assisted by the UGA Archway Partnership. The 12-week leadership curriculum equips citizens with skills to be leaders in the community and in the work place.