Last week I had the privilege of photographing a Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) at Decatur High School where my son goes to school. This simulation provided the freshman class the opportunity to experience the day-to-day realities of living with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress. The students cycled through three different activities. The first group I photographed was packaging bags that contained rice, vitamins, dehydrated vegetables and soy. In just under two hours, 100 students had packaged and boxed 18,000 food packets. These boxes were slated to be shipped overseas. The second group of students I photographed were “role-playing the lives of low-income families, from single parents trying to care for their children to senior citizens trying to maintain their self sufficiency on Social Security. The task of each family was to provide food, shelter and other basic necessities during the simulation while interacting with various community resources staffed by low-income volunteers.” http://www.communityaction.org/poverty%20simulation.aspx
Ms. Smith told me that she was role-playing an 78-year-old widow with severe arthritis. She said she was good at managing her money and that after paying off her bills she had $140.00 to spare at the end of the month.This student mentioned that it was interesting to watch how the simulation progressed. The participants experienced a typical month living in poverty in the 2 hour simulation. At the beginning the participants were moving slowly and did not appear concerned but after some time they were scrambling to secure the services and assistance they needed. The tension in the room was palpable by the time I arrived.