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Park University gave students a crash course on the 'harsh realities' of living in poverty

During a "poverty simulation" for students at Park University last month, participants gained a greater understanding of some of the struggles of living at or below the poverty line.
Julia Powell
Community Action Agency of Greater Kansas City
During a "poverty simulation" for students at Park University last month, participants gained a greater understanding of the struggles that individuals living at or below the poverty line experience.

Students in Park University's social work, nursing and education departments took part in the exercise, which simulated a month of living at or below the poverty line. The simulation aimed to give students more empathy to clients, patients and students in difficult situations.

Nearly 38 million people in the U.S. live in poverty, and those struggling are sometimes faced with difficult decisions in order to make ends meet. But many college students don't know what it's like, which is why Park University offered a "poverty simulation" to students in its social work, nursing and education programs last month.

Park students were provided with a persona and living situation. Then they had to live out a "month" on their budgets — condensed into a few hours. The simulation was intended to give participants a deeper understanding of the experiences of low-income families.

"There was a fair amount of joviality at first, but truly, by the time week two ended and week three began, nobody was joking," said Nikki Pauls DeSimone, an assistant professor of social work who helped organize the event. "Everybody was dealing with the harsh realities."

  • Nikki Pauls DeSimone, assistant professor of social work at Park University
  • Linda Tavakoli, graduate student at Park University
  • Diane Simpson, assistant teaching professor in the School of Education at Park University
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