Villanova students experience poverty with aid of United Way simulation

 

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School students swarm one of the stations used as part of an anti-poverty simulation last Friday morning. The simulation was presented in conjunction with United Way and Libro Credit Union and allowed students to experience what it is like living on a low income.

St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School students swarm one of the stations used as part of an anti-poverty simulation last Friday morning. The simulation was presented in conjunction with United Way and Libro Credit Union and allowed students to experience what it is like living on a low income.

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Students at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School got a chance to feel poverty thanks to the school’s social justice club and United Way.

United Way brought its “Living on the Edge” poverty simulation to Villanova Friday morning with students being able to participate. Eighty students were able to sign up and take part in the simulation, with the object being to give students a “glimpse into the realities and complexities of living on a low income.”

Leslie Frattaroli, United Way’s manager of training and consulting, said United Way purchased a poverty simulation and the exercise at Villanova was the first time it had been brought into a school. While the simulation was to educate students on what people on low incomes experience, it was also to make them more sensitive to their struggles.

“It was the social justice club who spearheaded wanting to bring it to their school,” said Frattaroli. “The social justice club focused on issues relating to poverty.”

Students went through four 18-minute “weeks” in which they had to deal with paying bills, paying rent, buying food, finding work, dealing with unforeseen issues and other simulated scenarios.

Frattaroli said United Way’s “Cost of Poverty” study shows that over 66,000 people in Windsor-Essex County live in poverty, which translates into one in five people and one in four children.

The presenting sponsor of the simulation was Libro Credit Union, with regional manager Jennifer Dawson explaining they are trying to partner with community groups as part of their prosperity project.

“Living on the Edge provides a simulation experience to better understand some of the realities and complexities low income individuals and families face,” said Dawson. “It helps shed light on bigger issues our community faces and starts a dialogue on how we may work together to create positive change. By sharing ideas and brainstorming solutions, we can certainly inspire each other to help make a difference.”

Maddie Diab (left), president of St. Thomas of Villanova's social justice club, gives an interview to fellow students about the poverty simulation the school was doing in conjunction with United Way Windsor-Essex County.

Maddie Diab (left), president of St. Thomas of Villanova’s social justice club, gives an interview to fellow students about the poverty simulation the school was doing in conjunction with United Way Windsor-Essex County.

United Way volunteer Lisa Raffoul pointed out the energy the students had during the simulation. She believed the exercise will also help United Way in its learning on the issues and noted “we are continuing to learn.”
Maddie Diab, president of Villanova’s social justice club, noted the school has participated with United Way in the past and wanted to keep doing so. She said there was an 80-student limit for the simulation with the school’s student council and Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) also represented.

Diab believes it is very important to learn about poverty, as fellow students may have issues with poverty and it is important to understand their issues so they can be helped.

“It’s not so easy to solve them,” she said of issues relating to poverty.

The students learned a lot, Diab added, and that they have a better appreciation for the frustrations those with low incomes experience.

Comments are closed.