OUHSC | Health Science Center OU-NORMAN | Norman Campus

The University of Oklahoma - School of Community Medicine

Summer Institute - Poverty Simulation

poverty sim

Poverty Simulation
On Tuesday, July 28, a 3-hour poverty simulation was enacted for all Summer Institute participants.

Lori Franklin, OU College of Social Work, and trained facilitator with Missouri’s Community Action Poverty Simulation, conducted the simulation.


poverty sim

Dr. Nicole Washington and Cheryl Waldeck, with OU-Tulsa, assisted.

The Poverty Simulation utilized twenty Institute participants “acting” as community resources that regularly interact with those living in poverty while 100 participants stepped into the role of someone living in poverty. The trained “actors” represented agencies such as the police, utility company, pawnshop, super center (food), Mortgage Company, faith services, employer, childcare, school, DHS, and medical clinic personnel.

Those in the role of a person living in poverty were given no advance preparation. The OU Learning Center was set with appropriate stations representing “family homes,” and these participants stepped into the lives of those in both situational and generational poverty. For example, one role was a middle class mother of three whose husband suddenly lost his job. Because they had no savings, they were thrown into situational poverty and interacted with agencies they needed, but had no known familiarity of until this time. Another example was a single teenage mother who not only grew up in housing projects, but also was currently living in a shelter because her family has disowned her. This young woman was trying to complete high school, yet was completely dependant on social service agencies for assistance with daycare for her infant while she was both at school and at work.
Poverty simulation
Throughout the morning, basic needs were acquired through the simulation process as participants navigated their way to survival without a dependable cash flow. At the end of the experience, participants had a simulated experience of life in poverty for one month. During a facilitated debriefing at the conclusion of the simulation, each role played was determined if participants were indeed able to provide food for themselves and their families, find work, or secure welfare while endeavoring to meet the necessities of life
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