Students' Eyes Opened to Those Struggling in Poverty
Posted on Monday, March 25, 2013 [5:19 PM]
COLUMBIA, Ky. -- More than 75 Lindsey Wilson
College students discovered what it is like to live in
students participated in a Cost of Poverty Experience, held
Thursday, March 21, in the college's Norma and Glen Hodge Center
is an event that offers participants a glimpse into the lives of
low-income individuals and families. The event was sponsored by
Ohio-based Think Tank Inc., a nonprofit organization
focused on social justice issues.
Think Tank member Ken Moss told LWC students to forget
stereotypes they had about people who live in poverty and instead
give in to the experience by essentially becoming a different
person during the two-hour exercise.
help simulate what a person in poverty experiences, LWC students
were given new names and families. Some participants were assigned
children or other dependents.
Throughout the Hodge Center were stations that simulated
places in a fictional town -- schools, gas stations, low-rent
housing, churches, prisons and judicial centers. In a frantic rush,
students moved from station to station in attempt to get through a
simulated month living below the poverty line to buy groceries,
collect gas money, meet with parole officers and take care of their
kids. If a parental role wasn't taken seriously, students
were charged with neglect and sent to prison.
religion professor Cinda Swan, who helped organize the program, was
encouraged how the event affect students.
helped sensitize our students to the utter chaos of people's lives
and why they may be unable to plan for the future," Swan said. "Our
students came away with greater empathy and understanding with
respect to the reality of poverty and the struggles people have to
deal with on a daily basis."
Students said they also gained an appreciation of what it
means to carry out simple day-to-day tasks while having a limited
amount of time, money and resources. They said they realized why
people who live in poverty struggle every day just to survive and
protect their family.
"Experiencing a simulation like COPE allows us to better
understand what people in poverty experience and what we can do to
help our fellow neighbors throughout the world," said LWC junior
Emily Ramage of Columbia. "It made us realize that poverty is real
and each person can help in some capacity if we reach out to those
said the event was a success because of the responses she received
"Several students asked about volunteer opportunities and how
they might become more involved in being a part of the solution,"
Swan said. "My goal is to follow up with a National Circles
Campaign training event in the fall.
"Circles is a concept which utilizes the social capital of
middle/upper-income citizens to bridge opportunity gaps for those
wanting to get out of poverty in order to increase their economic
stability. My hope is that our students will attend the Circles
workshop in the fall to discover the gifts they possess and the joy
that comes from helping others."