More than 50 UW-Green Bay student-athletes participated in a poverty simulation exercise in partnership with UW-Extension recently at the Kress Events Center. The event was part of a larger series of leadership building activities new to athletics called the Phoenix Leadership Initiative (PhLI) where student-athletes participate in targeted programming focused on community involvement, career preparation and professional development among other things.
The poverty simulation exercise was used to build awareness of poverty and the challenges on surviving on little to no budget. Students were divided into groups with different household situations based on age, income, children, physical disabilities and other categories. They were then put through an exercise simulated on a four-week timeline to see if they could survive poverty for one month. Many students struggled to improve their situation at the end of one month while others were able to better utilize resources or employment and savings to improve by month’s end.
“The simulator was an eye opening experience to see what people have to go through just to get by day-to-day,” said Green Bay swimming and diving student athlete Andy Cooper. “It made me realize how many things are easily taken for granted on a daily basis and helped me appreciate all the little things that are done for me.”
The simulation has proven to increase students’ awareness and understanding of the situation of individuals in poverty and change the way they relate to low income families. Students also offered a wide range of ideas for “next steps” that could be taken in the community to address the plight of individuals in poverty.
“Obtaining a job under these circumstances proved to be a great challenge throughout the simulation, making me grateful and thankful for the opportunity to not only play division one volleyball at UW-Green Bay, but also receive a higher education to further my career and future after athletics,” Green Bay women’s volleyball player Jessica Wolf, said.
UW-Extension has more information about the simulation on its website.