UCF Student Care Services partnered with Northland Church to host an interactive poverty simulation as a part of Leadership Week 2016. Participants were asked to role-play 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 volunteers.

It is a simulation tool that enables participants to view poverty from different angles in an experiential setting. There were 45 participants and 17 volunteers in attendance, UCF resource tables including the Arboretum, UCF Cares, and Knights Helping Pantry. A reflection session was held with the participants at the end of the program to discuss helpful resources, and ways to increase civic engagement.

Student Care Services received positive feedback from individuals volunteering and participating and hope to re-create the simulation again next year. Individuals who were not able to attend the event but were interested were sent a link to an online simulation with the same goals in.

Thank you to Todd Currie (Student Care Services AmeriCorps VISTA), Judy Head (Northland Church), Aaron Leventhal (Northland Church AmeriCorps VISTA) and all of our volunteers and support staff for the collaboration and successful execution of the event.