School of Nursing students recently participated in a large-scale poverty simulation to learn about the challenges low-income families undergo in an effort to survive. The experiential learning activity was a modification of the Reform Organization of Welfare Education Association's poverty simulation created by St. Vincent Health in Indiana.
Nursing Professor Dr. Sheryl Cifrino led the simulation where students had to work together to provide necessities and shelter for their mock family for a one month period, consisting of four 20 minute weeks. Each family received a packet with resources, including cash, transportation, and property. Volunteers manned community resource and service stations for the families to visit, including a bank, food pantry, employment office, grocery store, welfare office, currency exchange, and school. There were also community enforcers who participated in the simulation, such as a police officer, utility collector, and landlord/rent collector.
The simulation helped Nursing students appreciate the realities and choices individuals living in poverty face every day. For instance, one participant spent much of the week filling out paperwork to obtain food stamps only to watch the welfare worker tear up the form because it was incomplete.
The School of Nursing plans to host another poverty simulation in April for additional students to benefit from the exercise.