Civic leaders, members of the Newport community, as well as community leaders from Independence, Jackson, and Craighead counties participated in the University of Central Arkansas Living on the Edge: A Poverty Simulation last week. Nearly 70 participants from the region took part in the simulation, hosted locally by ASU-Newport and the Newport Area Chamber of Commerce. The simulation is an experiential setting that allows participants to view poverty from different angles. The simulation is intended to move participants to think about the realities of poverty and to talk about how communities can address the problem. According to Chamber Director Julie Allen, the exercise is a unique, interactive experience that helps people begin to understand what life is like with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress. Participants can better understand living in poverty and how it affects individuals and families.
During the simulation, volunteers acted as members of a community that those in poverty must reach and work with. Other participants were assigned to a specific role in the community such as a person in poverty. Roles included playing vendors such as Quick Cash, Human Services, and Community Action Agencies, as well as community volunteers who can help those in poverty.
Amy Whitehead, Assistant Vice President for Community & Workforce Development at University of Central Arkansas, said to KAIT-8 that the participants with the role of families had the tasks of navigating some of the challenges associated with poverty and had to work with vendors to meet some of their day to day needs in overcoming those challenges.