This week, I want to share about an inspiring event that I’ve been a part of. Maybe this will inspire you too!
The Universities at Shady Grove, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente and University of Maryland School of Nursing, hosted a Poverty Simulation this past Tuesday. Participants were given the opportunity to role play a month of the lives of low income families and experience the realities they have to face daily.
This was my third time being a part of it. I was a participant my first time, and a volunteer last and this time. Participants’ roles are the low income families and volunteers’ roles are service providers, such as supermarkets, social services, school, and health clinics. As a part of role playing, participants were put through activities such as work, school, and healthcare visits, which also include many complications and unexpected circumstances. Some people were evicted, some became sick, and some ended up in a life of crime. Through this experience, participants were able to learn the difficulties and frustration of managing complex life situations.
My role was a Community Health Care Manager and a Doctor. Most of the low income families couldn’t come see me because they didn’t have insurance or out-of-pocket money to pay for my services. It’s so sad to see how people have to choose to live with their health problems because they can’t afford medical care. This role play definitely gave me a different perspective in life.
I am so thankful that I got a chance to experience this. As a Graduate and current staff of the Public Health Science Program, I was so proud to see our faculty and students be a part of this eye-opening opportunity as well. The highlight of the event for me was to see our program’s Poverty Affluence & Families professor, Damian Waters, role play as a 13 year old girl who became involved with the criminal justice system after trying to obtain resources for her family. He was excellent in portraying his role, which lead him to meet the wrong sort of people, steal money, deal drugs, and spend a lot of time in juvie. This provided a great example of how a participant can come to understand how children or adults in low income families might be feeling.
Poverty is not just for the poor. It is everyone’s problem. As a community, we have to gain insight into the situation and help eliminate disparities. This is the only way we can integrate our health and welfare. The Poverty Simulation not only provided me a chance for personal reflection, it also made me want to make a commitment to social change.
If there are health and social welfare issues you’re passionate about, please feel free to share with me! I’d love to learn more about it and maybe even feature it on my blog.