Some members of School District leadership will participate with other community decision-makers and elected officials in the upcoming Poverty Simulation event scheduled for Wednesday, September 12, from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Addie Greene Room of Gaines Park in West Palm Beach. Pre-registered District participants include: Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Learning Support Keith Oswald; Assistant Superintendent of Safe Schools, Joseph Lee; Director of Safe Schools, Ellen VanArsdale; and Area 2 Director Valerie Zuniga –Haines. Retired Academic Executive Judith Klinek and retired Chief Academic Officer Ann Killets are also participating.
These educators will join Palm Beach County Education Commissioner Jody Gleason, Palm Beach County Commissioners Paulette Burdick and Shelly Vana, Deputy Chief Mike Gauger of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department, and over 100 other community leaders. Hosted by the National Circles Campaign-Palm Beach County—a collaborative community initiative of the Center for Family Services-the awareness-raising event is intended to draw attention to the circumstances of a growing number of Palm Beach County residents who find themselves among the ranks of those living at or below the federal poverty levels. They will “live” four 15-minute weeks confronting some of the tough decisions people in poverty face daily.
Assistant Superintendent Keith Oswald said it’s important for everyone who wants to see the community thrive to understand the realities of poverty and families who live those realities daily. “Certainly the public education system of any community plays a vital role in the health and wealth of that community and of course we want to be a part of the solution to this crucial issue facing some of the most vulnerable of our residents—our children and our elders,” he stated.
Participants of the simulation will learn when they arrive at the session what their particular “family circumstances” are and proceed to replicate the experience of a typical low-income family trying to survive “the tyranny of the moment.” They will try to navigate the complex and sometimes contradictory eligibility requirements of various community resources while attempting to find childcare, provide food, and make rent and utility payments. Representatives of the community resources will be played by volunteers from county government, the School District, Workforce Alliance, Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, and a variety of other agencies and organizations. Although participants will be “acting out roles”, this is not a game.
The National Circles Campaign-Palm Beach County is designed to help families help themselves out of poverty. Palm Beach County is the 72 site in the U.S. to undertake this unique initiative. The simulation is designed to maximize understanding and to mobilize future positive action.
Limited participant spots are available. Contact National Circles Campaign-Palm Beach County Coordinator Hilda Alexander to register or for more details about the event at 561.616.1252 or Halexander@ctrfam.org.