The board game Life recently became very real for members of the community.
Friday, Jamestown Community College, in cooperation with the Department of Social Services and several religious groups, held a Poverty Simulation.
Chautauqua Opportunities typically puts on three to four poverty simulations a year, according to Bill Vogt, housing and community development director.
Participants in the Poverty Simulation that played the role of children went to the Realville Public School.
P-J photo by Liz Skoczylas
"We find this to be an important public service to help people understand, and give folks the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of someone that has low income," Vogt said.
The simulation is offered to school districts, government entities, or whoever would like the opportunity. There is no charge for the poverty simulation.
The simulation breaks participants into groups of families. The task of the families is to provide for basic necessities and shelter for one month, which consists of four 15-minute weeks.
Chautauqua Opportunities staff also play roles during the simulation. Around the room are community resources and services, such as a bank, mortgage company, pawn shop, school and child care center. There are also a mayor and a police officer involved in the simulation.
"There are different families. There are grandparents raising children, single fathers raising children. We try and depict a real-life community. The goal is to survive. The goal is to pay all your bills, go to work, get the children to school, keep them fed, keep a roof over their head," said Maureen Abbott, operations director.
According to Ms. Abbott, at the end of the simulation, if one or two of the 26 families have managed to accomplish all of this, then they are successful.
"We over-dramatize some of the roles, just to try and get people thinking," Ms. Abbott said.
Following the simulation, the participants have a debriefing, where participants and workers are able to share their feelings and experiences.
The Poverty Simulation is a learning tool that was created by the Reform Organization of Welfare Education Association of Missouri.
In Chautauqua County, 17.1 percent of the population lives in poverty. In families with children under 5 years old and a female head of household, the poverty rate is 71.9 percent.
Additionally, in 2010, 21,958 people in Chautauqua County were living in poverty. Out of these, 6,714 were children.
For more information about the Poverty Simulation, contact Ms. Abbott and firstname.lastname@example.org or 366-3333, ext. 236.