Last week, I along with Safe Haven/Catholic Charities VISTAS Frankie, Colleen, and Alex visited Explore! Community School. We led all 1st grade classrooms through a poverty simulation so that they could get a hands on experience of what it is like to be a family living in Nashville for a month. We tied in the use of coins since that is what unit the students are working on in math at school.
The kids “lived through” 30 days in the role of either teacher, doctor, fast food worker, astronaut, or police officer. They started the month with different amounts of money dependent upon their career. In the roles, there was rent due, electricity bills, car repair costs, and more. Being an adult was tiring! It was great to see the students get into character and explain the experience of paying bills as “stressful, sad, and hard.” Even if just for 45 minutes, these 1st graders were able to begin to grasp the reality of poverty, homelessness and caring for a family.
We gifted each classroom with a different copy of one of the many children’s books by Ralph da Costa Nunez (Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness) which delve into the issues of homelessness on a level that children can understand. What a great experience!