If you aren’t among the one million Georgians living below the poverty line, you may not know what it’s like to feed and clothe a family under the grinding strain of poverty. These families have children who are part of our school system. According to the Kids Count Data Center’s 2012 statistics, more than 27 percent of Georgia’s children are living in poverty, while 38 percent of Tift County’s children are. In an effort to show our local leaders what our students and their families are facing, the Tift County Board of Education, in cooperation with the University of Georgia’s College and Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Office, will be hosting a simulation program called “Welcome to the State of Poverty”.
You are cordially invited to participate in the simulation which will be held from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 25, at the First United Methodist Church Activities Center. The simulation will take two-three hours to complete. The program places participants into “families” and challenges them to survive for one month.
During the simulated month, broken down into four 15-minute “weeks”, the families must keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, keep utilities on, make loan payments, pay for daily living expenses like transportation, handle unexpected emergencies and keep their children in school-and do it on less than $18,000 for a family of four. The simulation is used to sensitize people in communities to obstacles low-income families face just trying to survive. As a school system, we are currently serving approximately 135 children per month through Backpack Buddies, a program that provides food for children to take home during weekends so they are able to eat.
Since August, we’ve made 193 referrals to the Department of Family and Children Services. Many of our children are facing tough odds, and we as a community need to better understand some of what they are going through.
Please join us for the simulation. For more information or to RSVP, please call Dr. Gina Cox, Director of Student Services for Tift County Schools, at (229) 387-2400, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sincerely, Patrick Atwater, Jr. Superintendent