Complete with play money, appliance cards, and transportation passes, the Community Action Poverty Simulation is much like a role play or board game. Yet the goal is not buying property or finding chutes and ladders, but rather buying medications and finding child care. The Missouri Association for Community Action, based in Jefferson City, created the simulation to help raise awareness about the tough choices that bombard low-income families in the United States every day. Simulation participants receive a family scenario and within those parameters must make choices about buying food, maintaining shelter, getting health care, and meeting other needs.
The association has distributed about 75 kits in the past three years to student groups, social service agencies, and faith-based organizations, executive director Elaine West told Sojourners. “A lot of people think they know about poverty, especially people in social work,” West said. “Yet even those who have worked with the poor say the simulation opens their eyes to the stress that the family goes through.”