Urban Submersion

Sorry for not posting. It may have something to do with the fact that I was in LA this weekend and couldn’t post. For those of you who care, here’s how it went.

The big secret of the weekend was that it was going to be a poverty awareness simulation. The kids were told that they were going to be playing the role of a single mother of two, and that they have ‘lost’ all of their things. They were allowed to keep two items. They were given $25 to spend on used clothes, meals, showers, and lodging. No one ended up purchasing lodging or showers, so they all had some meals and warm clothes. One person was made homeless, meaning they had no items and no money. They had to rely on the charity of the others to give them money for food. Throughout the weekend they also got ‘chance’ cards. These cards would tell them about something bad that would happen and they’d lose something. They’d get a chance card for being late, or just for the heck of it. One card said that they got arrested on false charges and released, but lost their belongings, so the kid lost his personal items. Another card for everyone said that the sweat shop got closed down and everyone lost all their money that they had saved to use on other things. Other kids lost items and sleeping bags.

The kids slept outside behind someone’s house, and it got cold and wet at night, so no one slept too well. On Saturday they helped out with some work projects and did a scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt had them going to the area of the Staples Center (where the Lakers, Clippers, and LA Kings play) and they had to beg for money to buy lunch, interview a homeless person, an elderly person, find out what WIC, SSI and other things were. They had to find out where a person in need would go for help, ride a bus, and help out someone in need. They had to collect recycleables and find something usefull out of a dumpster. The hunt was very challenging, but the kids realized what the people go through on a daily basis.

Each night we went on tours of Skid Row, which was very eye opening. We did a prayer tour, praying for different things at each spot. The kids were told about the cycle that the homeless find themselves in and how hard it is to work your way out of that situation. They were told about the addictions that are formed and the kids that have to grow up in that environment. We hope to return there in the future to the Union Rescue Mission and help out with the homeless services there.

I could go on and on, but I don’t have the time for that. I will end with this interesting bit of info. While my group was on a scavenger hunt, we saw this really nice Rolls Royce on the side of the street. The kids were talking about how nice it was, and I looked at the driver and I said, ‘He guys, I think that’s Simon Cowell.’ We went back and sure enough, it was. He rolled down his window and gave the kids autographs and chatted with them. He was a really nice guy, not what I was expecting. I told him to tell Paula to calm down and he said, “I know, I know… I do!” So after meeting him, the kids in my group weren’t really thinking about poverty simulation anymore. oh well…


2 comments on “Urban Submersion

  1. Beth'sMomToo says:

    It’s good you pointed out how difficult it can be to break the cycle once you are in it (and let’s face it, there are people who get into it due to bad decisions on their part…but getting out is tough). Try getting a job when you have:
    1) no phone
    2) no address
    3) poor cleanliness and clothing

    But try to get a phone, address, cleanliness & decent clothing without a job!

    Many do not realize, that at least in NH, you have to fit very specific categories in order to receive State aid: Permanently & Totally Disabled
    SINGLE Parent with children
    Needy elderly person with no

    That leaves a LARGE crack for working families, the elderly with a minimum of resources and those temporarily disabled. Towns can only help on a limited basis. If you live in a small town like Chester, it’s VERY limited.

    There are supplemental resources for those who do not qualify for the above – WIC, food stamps, limited heating assistance. but that can still leave a chunk of needs.

    It’s a tough life, often lived by those with mental incapacities, drug and/or alcohol problems, little educational or life-training in their backgrounds who can only see “today”. I’m very much in favor of shelters and programs that train people how to speak, dress and behave responsibly enough to get and keep a job!

  2. Beth'sMomToo says:

    Oh…this reminds me, too, of that episode on The Bill Cosby Show where they gave Theo an opportunity to see what it would really be like to live in “the real world”, when Theo had wanted to go out on his own as a teenager. What a great life lesson that was – I taped it!

    When I was a social worker, what REALLY broke my heart was when a teen who had grown up in the foster system turned 18. The state dropped their support and all too often the family they had been living with would make them leave. Can you imagine what it would be like to try to get further education with no family behind you? no place to come home to on holidays or breaks? no one to help you financially or even to help fill out all those Financial Aid forms? no health care? no one at home to call when you got blue or overwhelmed? Or how do you even get a job and an apartment with no resources for rent deposits, no transportation, etc.? I never understood how the State and those families could just cast them loose like that! It always bothered me terribly!

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