More than 70 people experienced the daily troubles of families struggling to make ends.
The United Way of Central Alberta and the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance (CAPRA) hosted a Poverty Simulation at the Radisson Hotel Wednesday.
Participants were given a role in different low-income families and had to live through a month in 15-minute intervals.
Dayna Facca, 27, was playing the role of a seven-year-old boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“It was interesting going through the motions and seeing your parents not having the ability to support you in the way they need to because they’re so busy trying to keep the lights on,” said Facca.
Not getting attention from her “parents” made it hard to behave as the seven-year-old boy, Facca added.
“I didn’t get access to medication I needed and I went hungry for a few weeks. I can’t imagine how a little boy would’ve struggled with this stuff and where his head would be,” she said.
“It was absolutely crazy to experience it. I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” Facca added.
Ezgi Sarioglu, 28, played the role of an 85-year-old man who was living alone.
“It was definitely a unique experience. I’ll never be able to experience being an 85-year-old man,” said Sarioglu.
“It was very isolating and lonely,” she said. “I had more time than all the families who were running around and doing things all together, but I didn’t know what to do with all that time.”
Sarioglu said she found herself spending money just to go places to socialize people.
“There was a lot to navigate and it felt like there was little help. There wasn’t much support in the community and socializing options for a senior living alone,” she said.
After missing out on grocery shopping, she had to so a week without food, she added.
“I felt grumpy at times, so I can understand why some older people feel that way – it can be lonely,” she said.
Diana Souveny, City of Red Deer social planning community facilitator, said the simulation went well.
“We want people to feel what it’s like to live in poverty or low-income,” said Souveny. “It’s very impactful for the participants and the volunteers.”
The volunteers at the simulation played the roles of various agencies providing services to the families.
“The word I hear most often from participants is ‘stress,’” said Souveny. “We try to make it realistic for them so they can actually feel the anxiety over it.”
CAPRA is asking the public to fill out a poverty awareness survey at http://bit.ly/2Bkjdab.