Poverty Simulation Workshop aims to help participants understand poverty and initiate change

WellFlorida News Release

About 80 people experienced the virtual realities of poverty in a unique poverty simulation conducted today by the North Central Florida Cancer Control Collaborative and the Florida Department of Health in Colombia County.

The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) was designed to help people better understand the realities of poverty. Participants included staff members of various human service agencies and local civic and community leaders.

“This program helps people understand the complexities and frustrations of living in poverty day to day,” said Lindsey Redding, Director of Community Initiatives at WellFlorida Council. “With a greater awareness of its impact, we can more effectively address the poverty issues in our community.”

Using a simulation kit, participants role-played the lives of low-income families. Some were TANF recipients, some were disabled, and others were senior citizens on Social Security. They had the stressful task of providing for basic necessities and shelter on a limited budget during the course of four 15-minute “weeks.” They interacted with human service agencies, grocers, pawnbrokers, bill collectors, job interviewers, police officers and others.

In North Central Florida, over 17% of residents live below the poverty level, and 80% of students are on free or reduced lunches (compared to 69.4% in Florida), according to 2018 data provided by WellFlorida Council.

“This is the everyday reality of thousands of people in our region. Understanding that reality will help us change it,” said Redding.

CAPS enables participants to look at poverty from a variety of angles and then to recognize and discuss the potential for change within their local communities, said Elaine West, former executive director of the Missouri Community Action Network, which made the simulation available nationwide.

The simulation was designed to sensitize those who frequently deal with low-income families as well as to create a broader awareness of poverty among policymakers, community leaders and others.

NCFCCC supports the region’s cancer community with resources, networking opportunities and education. Oversight and leadership of NCFCCC is provided by WellFlorida Council. To learn more about NCFCCC and WellFlorida visit www.ncfcancercontrol.org and https://wellflorida.org/.

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