Judson hosts poverty simulation | Judson College

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Judson hosts poverty simulation

On January 12, over 100 Judson College students and Marion Military Institute cadets participated in a poverty simulation hosted by Judson’s Professional Studies Division and Office of Faith-Based Service and Learning. Representatives from Alabama Possible, a statewide nonprofit organization whose goal is to “remove barriers to prosperity in Alabama through education, collaboration, and advocacy”, facilitated the simulation.

Dr. Cathy Trimble, principal at Francis Marion School, conducts “class” with students at the simulation’s public school station.

Participants were assigned roles of members of family units in varying socioeconomic circumstances and levels of poverty. Marion community members volunteered as service providers at the simulation’s “stations”, which included a bank, social services, mortgage and utility companies, a grocery store and pawn shop, a school, an employment office, and a jail.

Amy Butler, Director of Judson’s Office of Faith-Based Service and Learning, said “It was wonderful to have Marion community volunteers on campus and to see their interactions with students as they worked toward a common goal of understanding and addressing poverty together. We are so appreciative of their involvement and what they did to make the poverty simulation a success.”

Dr. Doug Halbrooks (left), Veterinarian at Marion Vet Clinic, makes loans and conducts transactions as the “Bank” station, while Vanessa Nicholson (right), choir director at Siloam Baptist Church, sells items as the “Grocery Store” station.

The 2-hour event simulated a month in the participants’ families’ lives. Participants sometimes had to make difficult choices as they struggled to pay bills, seek employment, find transportation, and take care of their families.

Lesley Sheek, Chair of the Professional Studies Division at Judson, expressed her gratitude at Professional Studies students’ “willingness to expand [their] understanding of the effects of poverty” on families similar to those division graduates may serve in their professions. The Professional Studies Division is comprised of the Education, Nursing, and Social Work Departments of the College. Addressing future teachers, social workers, and nurses, Sheek articulated her hope that “this experience has given [participants] a desire to serve with an open mind, a lending hand, and an empathetic heart.”

Leslie Ann Pope, a Judson sophomore and secondary education major from Orange Beach, Ala., answered with this lesson from her experience: “The Poverty Simulation opened my eyes to the realities that many of my future students might face. I learned that a lot of young people have to grow up faster than they need to, and, as a teacher, I hope that I will be able to know and better understand the problems that many of my students’ families face every day.”

Featured image: Kristina Scott (standing), Executive Director of Alabama Possible, begins the simulation.