School of Nursing to host first-ever poverty simulation

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CSU Chico students participate in poverty simulation. The CSUF School of Nursing will host its own simulation Saturday. (Courtesy of CSU Chico)
CSU Chico students participate in poverty simulation. The CSUF School of Nursing will host its own simulation Saturday. (Courtesy of CSU Chico)

The CSUF School of Nursing will, for the first time, host a life-like, Monopoly-style poverty simulation exercise to better understand the realities of poverty.

Participants will be divided into different “families” of various incomes, said Maria Matza, a Community Health Resource faculty member. Surrounding the families will be community services such as banks, grocers, schools, pawnbrokers, social service agencies, a jail and more.

“The main objective of it is to increase awareness about the complexities of living in day-to-day poverty,” Goodman said. “There’s a multitude of problems that we can’t even begin to think of.”
Each family will receive a packet containing varying amounts of money as well as different family scenarios, such a single mother or senior couples on fixed incomes, School of Nursing tutor Jane Goodman said.

One of the many scenarios is that of pregnant teenagers, or a once-successful family that lost their house due job loss, Matza said. There are emergencies within the scenarios also, such as sick children or children being arrested, and the groups will have to respond to those, given the available funds they have.

“It’s not a competition, it’s about survival,” Matza said.

The role-play portion will take place over the course of one hour, with every 15 minutes signifying one week of challenges a family may face. Once the exercise ends, students will participate in a debriefing period where they will reflect on their experience, Matza said. The goal is to survive a whole month on what is given in each group’s scenario.

“We want (our students) to feel the panic,” Matza said. “A lot has to do with people that are under constant, constant stress. How their cortisone levels are constantly up, causing a lot of health issues.”

“Many students at CSUF are in this themselves … they’re living their own personal lives in poverty,” Goodman said. “The bottom line is to make everyone aware of what it’s like to live in poverty.”

For future semesters, the CSUF Community Health faculty wants student participation in this exercise on the first day of class as an introduction to the semester, like the University of Texas does it, Matza said.

“They’ll be able to use this simulation throughout the whole semester and bring it back home each time,” she said.

“It is something we felt we should bring to our students because we wanted to create an empathy with vulnerable populations, homeless, immigrants,” Matza said. “Anyone who is meeting some challenges — economic challenges, emotional, educational challenges in life.”

The poverty simulation will take place this Saturday, in TSU Pavilions A, B and C.

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