Recently, I posted about The University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Poverty Simulation that was held on March 27th as part of their social justice week, a celebration for social work month. The simulation was to provide students and other members of the community a glimpse of what the poverty experience might be like for them. This simulation is an interactive experiential guided exercise that walks participants into an alternate universe of second class living in which some people have never experienced.
The day began at 9am on a chilly March day. Students first met in the gym for their training of the simulation which lasted until about 11am. The simulation ran from 12PM until 4PM, and it closed with participants and volunteers processing their reactions to the simulation and sharing what they have learned.
The events consisted of participants playing roles of families, single people , some jobless, homeless, sick all trying to get their needs met. Below are some of the highlights of the day.
The “police” taking a “homeless” person to jail for loitering
Photo of Jack Register UNCG professor and Luke McCollum
Students learn the experience of long lines at the Department of Social Services
“Mental health professional” telling “prospective clients” that they must have insurance to receive assistance.
UNCG professor Jason Yates and social work students
Another homeless person whom after he could not find any place to stay is arrested for sleeping in the streets.
Social work student Daniel de la Cruz
The Housing Authority checking for proper documentation before providing services.
Lydia Long and two other participants.
PROTEST! Social work students organizing a protest to advocate for health care being cut.
DSS social worker assisting clients on receiving services.
Social Work alumni Calvetta Watlington (DSS worker) and social work senior Electre
Students experience frustration and laughter as they navigate through the simulation.
Social work students taking part in the simulation.
The simulation is held annually during social work month at UNCG. It was a rewarding experience, and I encourage any locals to participate in the upcoming year. This experience is one that will undoubtedly impact your perspective of your community and society.
Photos by Mike Long Photography