We are very fortunate to live in an exceptionally beautiful area with a relatively low crime rate, good schools, and world-class recreational opportunities. Many of our Madison neighbors, however, are struggling day-to-day with the effects of both acute and chronic poverty. Malnutrition, physical & mental health, education, employment and crime are issues that 18.3% of our children 1 are faced with every day.
While we know that simulation exercises alone won’t help end poverty here, understanding the day-to-day reality is important for everyone involved in trying to make a difference – from policymakers to service providers. The COMMUNITY ACTION POVERTY SIMULATION (CAPS) is a unique tool that helps people begin to understand what life is like with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress.
During a simulation, participants role-play the lives of low-income families, including single parents, people with disabilities, and senior citizens on Social Security. The task of each family is to provide for food, shelter and other basic necessities during four 15-minute “weeks.” Families interact with community resources.
Although it uses “play” money, fictional scenarios and time limits, CAPS is not a game. It’s a simulation that enables participants to view poverty from different angles and then to discuss the potential for change within local communities. It’s designed to sensitize those who frequently deal with low-income families and to create a broader awareness among policymakers and community leaders.
In partnership with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, with whom we’ve recently helped conduct three 1/2-day exercises on behalf of the Madison Department of Social Services and the Madison County Public School system, we’re asking for your tax-deductible donation to purchase an updated Poverty Simulation kit (and to provide facilitator training) so that we can continue to provide resources to schools, government, law enforcement and public-facing agencies in our area. Each kit costs $2,150 plus shipping. Any additional monies raised will be donated to support charitable efforts such as the Stone Soup Workforce Training Program.
1 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE).