Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Students Take a Walk through Poverty Simulation; Co-Hosted by United Way, the Project Showed How Struggles Can Become Overwhelming

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UNF Students Take a Walk through Poverty Simulation; Co-Hosted by United Way, the Project Showed How Struggles Can Become Overwhelming

Article excerpt

Byline: ERIK MOULE

Low-income families across Jacksonville encounter struggles on a daily basis, with many facing obstacles that are seemingly insurmountable. Basic standards - being able to provide shelter, child care and basic necessities for themselves and their loved ones - have become increasingly arduous tasks.

The United Way and the University of North Florida recently co-hosted a Community Action Poverty Simulation to highlight poverty issues and raise UNF students' awareness about area residents who are living under such exceedingly stressful conditions.

"It's great that they're not just learning [about poverty] through stats, but that the stats are being brought to life, showing them that this is really how some people live in Jacksonville," said Melissa Tiberio, a community partnership coordinator for the United Way's Community-based Learning Center.

SUPPORTING FAMILIES

The simulation, held at UNF, consisted of over 45 participants divided into several groups of "families." Each of them were assigned a background of documented history, ranging from a deserting breadwinner to a needy family receiving temporary assistance benefits. Over the course of four 15-minute "weeks," each of the family members were tasked with providing shelter and basic necessities for the members of their group in any way they could - including simulated illegal methods.

Following the simulation the participants sat down for a debriefing, a chat that allowed them to express the fresh perspectives they had gained. Many of their comments related to issues of poverty and other hardships they faced. which they now recognized were faced by some of Jacksonville's families: high eviction rates, lack of financial means, underfed families and those who could not afford to keep the electricity on.

FINDING FRUSTRATIONS

One participating UNF student said he found the experience frustrating. …

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