By Jackie Nelson
More than 100 Hesston College students spent Wednesday night learning what it is like to live below the poverty line during a college-sponsored poverty simulation led by Harvey County Circles of Hope – Peace Connections in Newton. Circles of Hope works to develop resources, educate the community and inspire change in trying to eliminate poverty.
Students were separated into families of all sizes – from one to seven – and dealt with real scenarios while juggling all the responsibilities that come with taking care of self and family over the course of a month.
Some family members worked, others stayed home on disability or unemployment and children attended school. Together they had to figure out how to pay for rent, food, utilities, gas, childcare and any other necessities.
Failure to fulfill their responsibilities resulted in consequences such as having their utilities shut off and paying to have them turned back on, children taken into protective custody by social services because of parents who failed to buy groceries during the week and winding up in court for a variety of offenses and neglect.
“We hope that through this experience, students will gain a greater understanding of and sensitivity toward all people in the world,” said Hesston College education faculty member and event organizer Tami Keim.
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