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Students find out what it’s really like to live in poverty in Manitoba

March 28, 2014 — 

On March 19, approximately 80 U of M students participated in Winnipeg’s first-ever poverty simulation at a university. Coordinated with Student Life, Living on the Edge: Taking a Look at Poverty is a community outreach activity facilitated by United Way Winnipeg.

The simulation is designed to reveal the effects of poverty in our community, and the day-to-day situations families and individuals face. In this role-playing experience, students became part of a fictional family unit. The simulation was divided into four short “weeks,” during which families performed day-to-day tasks like sending children to school, getting to or finding work, paying bills, visiting social services, cashing cheques and more.

The students who took part are those involved in local service-learning programs, allowing them to draw connections between the simulation and their participation in experiential learning activities, and to think about the links between poverty and illiteracy.

The idea of hosting a simulation came from students in the PRAXIS program, who initially thought of volunteer at a simulation. But by bringing it to campus they engaged others in this interactive learning opportunity about the root causes of poverty.

The simulation “was an eye opening experience,” Britney, a student and PRAXIS member said. “It really allowed me to put myself in the shoes of someone facing daily hardships. The most rewarding aspect of the simulation was the personal connections I could make with past work and volunteer experiences.”

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