LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The official poverty rate in Tippecanoe County is about 18-percent. According to the United Way of Greater Lafayette, that's much higher than the national average.
Thursday, faculty and staff at Tecumseh Junior High School took part in a poverty simulation, an experience they say was eye-opening.
"I was Jacob. I was 25. I had just gotten out of jail through that jail process I got a part-time job," said Shanna Hampton and English Teacher at Tecumseh Junior High School.
Shanna along with all the other participants who took part in the poverty simulator were given a scenario and character whose life they had to navigate.
"I like that I was able to experience this again,” added Hampton. “Yes, I grew up in poverty, but I am far away from that now, so sometimes you have to remember so I think with this simulation it made me remember this is still real."
The poverty simulator is a program the United Way puts on the increase people's understanding of what it's like for low-income individuals.
"It's an opportunity to say what would I do if this was the situation I was in and these were the criteria that I had to survive in a given day," said Michael Budd the CEO United Way Greater Lafayette.
The program helped staff members have empathy and understanding for students who are living in poverty.
"We can pound the standards all day but if they aren't getting the basic necessities at home like food and shelter and sleep then we can't really get a lot out of them educationally,” said Tanya Koeppen a teacher at Tecumseh Junior High School. “We need to be aware of that and offer that kind of support as well.”
The workshop served as a reminder of how important a helpful community can be to those below the poverty line.
"From all of this I got that we are a community I work for public education it's a community so how can I help you to make sure you don't make the same mistake my character did," said Hampton.
The United Way puts the poverty simulator on for any organization that has 45 to 85 people willing to participate. To find out more about the Poverty Simulation workshop contact the United Way of Greater Lafayette.