Local leaders try life of poverty

JACKSON, Tenn. — Local leaders got a glimpse of what it is like to live in poverty on Wednesday during an exercise designed to show the hard choices low income residents face.

povertyPeople waited in line at a pretend version of the Department of Human Services at the JEA Training Center. It is part of a poverty simulation in Jackson.

“Some of these people are just on the edge,” Madison County UT Extension Agent Amy Elizer said. “They’ve been living paycheck to paycheck.”

Business and community leaders along with state employees learned what is it like to live below the poverty line. They got a pretend family, money and jobs, then had to find a way to survive.

Elizer helped organize the exercise. “It helps people to get an idea of the stress and choices, the really hard choices that families are having to make around us every day,” she said.

Tiffany Boyett works with TennCare-eligible clients at the Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department. The simulation allowed her to walk in their shoes. “We want to get a better understanding of what their life is like from school to home and the environment that they’re in,” Boyett said.

Participants said these types of exercises better the community. “Just really eye opening on the day-to-day struggles that a lot of people have,” Jason Compton, a volunteer, said.

Elizer said she hopes people become more sensitive and understanding. “Don’t assume that you know how they got into a situation or why they’re in that situation,” she said.

Between 50 and 60 people participated in the exercise.

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