Northern Lights Public Schools recently got a small slice of what poverty can feel like for a family. Staff were on hand last Wednesday for a simulation of poverty in families and what it can be like trying to make ends meet on slim budgets.
Six simulations featured 80 people in different roles in a family. The groups were given a different set of circumstances as well as resources like money, transportation to use in a month. They then had to maintain employment, pay mortgages, utilities, ensure children were cared for and attending school, and purchase food along with a few other curveballs.
One participant pointed out that everyone was very stressed during the simulation, and that it would be even more stressful for people who were really living in poverty. Other observations included:
“It was impossible to get everything done.”
“Transportation was very challenging.”
“We were amazed at our willingness to steal.”
“Our children didn’t get to go on field trips and things that other kids did.”
“It makes me wonder what happens to our students when they aren’t with us.”
Most families felt they were worse off at the end of the month than they were at the beginning.
The poverty simulation was made possible with the support of the Alberta Health School Community Wellness Fund, Successful Families, Successful Kids project, and Lac La Biche County.