Mesa Community College (MCC) will host a poverty simulation on Feb. 26 with the hopes of raising understanding of realities of poverty.
The Navajo Room at MCC will host the immersive event which puts participants into the shoes of those living in poverty. Students will take the identity of someone living in poverty and attempt to live a month impoverished. Each simulation offers obstacles and challenges such as affording food, rent, childcare, and other expenses.
MCC Student Life program adviser Beth Ann Wright decided to set up the first poverty simulation at MCC after experiencing it herself.
“…I just thought it was really powerful and awesome, and so we decided…to bring it here to MCC,” Wright said.
In her simulation, Wright and her group lost custody of their child after losing their house and ability to feed the baby.
“It definitely opened your eyes to different experiences, something that I had never experienced before,” Wright said.
Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) provides the simulation kits and offers training in planning and directing the simulation itself.
Evan Melkersman is the CAPS Project Manager for the Missouri Community Action Networkis in charge of promoting poverty awareness and inspiring community members to take action against poverty.
“The primary goal of the Community Action Poverty Simulation is to shift the paradigm about poverty away from being seen as a personal failure and toward the understanding of poverty as structural failure of society,” Melkersman said. “Through this understanding, we hope that participants become more aware of poverty, and more empathetic and create positive community change.”
In 2018, 38.1 million people lived in poverty in the United States according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Arizona, a 17% poverty rate totals just over one million people in poverty. In Maricopa County, Poverty USA reported 644,476 people living in poverty in 2017.
Melkersman said: “The simulation provides a glimpse into the structural barriers of poverty to transform participants’ perspectives about their own communities. We certainly hope that the individuals who participate in CAPS have a better understanding of poverty, but the true impact of the simulation happens when participants take the experience and lessons from the simulation and work to remove barriers related to poverty within their communities.”
MCC students can register at https://tinyurl.com/MCCPovertySimulation. It will be held from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26.