Poverty is something that can affect any family at any time and it is important to equip faculty and staff with the resources needed to deal with anyone who finds themselves in these circumstances.
On November 7, 2023, faculty and staff of Washingtonville High School and Washingtonville Middle School participated in a poverty simulation. The district also partnered with RECAP, the Regional Economic Community Action Program, to run a simulation. RECAP is a local organization that is committed to creating healthier, safer, and more equitable communities.
Faculty and staff interacted with human service agencies, grocers, bill collectors, police and pawnbrokers in order to better understand the complexities and frustrations of living in poverty.
“Poverty is a reality for many families but unless you’ve experienced it, there can be many misconceptions. The purpose of the poverty simulation is to raise awareness and sensitize participants to realities of poverty within the community” said Carla Sansone, the director of the Washingtonville Teacher Center, which assists staff with professional development. “It also provides opportunities to learn about resources that may be helpful to our students and their families.”
The simulation involved participants who took on the roles of members of up to 26 families, all facing a variety of challenging but typical circumstances. The simulation took place over the course of four 15-minute “weeks” with a very important debrief at the culmination of the experience.
In addition to RECAP, community partners such as local banks, the Food For Kids Program, Orange County Department of Mental Health and some Washingtonville Board of Education members were able to help make this a successful event.