PITTSBURG, KS.--- Pittsburg State University held a workshop where education majors simulated living in a poverty-stricken family. The goal of the workshop is to raise awareness of poverty within public education. This afternoon, approximately 100 student-teachers gathered to role play the lives of low-income families. Organizers of the event are hoping these prospective teachers are able to understand poverty on a more personal level.
"The poverty rates of Southeast Kansas are anywhere from 15 to 30%. Very, very high poverty. So the students that will become teachers and teach in these school districts will have to deal with children of poverty," said Dr. Jean Dockers, Teacher Education Director.
The education department at Pittsburg State University held a poverty simulation workshop for soon-to-be teachers. The students participated in role playing what it would be like to be a member of a family struggling with poverty.
"They were given the task of trying to stay afloat throughout the month by meeting all of their bills, buying enough food, getting their children to school or to daycare," said Sean Ozbun, SEK Community Action Program.
Organizers want student-teachers to be fully equipped to handle poverty-stricken families once they enter the classrooms.
"We really want it to hit home that they have a powerful role in the life of a child. And their part in making a difference may be to really come along side and really love on kids," said Ozbun.
Student-Teacher Danielle Kolb says she felt the program brought awareness to a lot of sensitive topics regarding poverty. She says the largest message of today: poverty can affect anyone.
"Poverty doesn't have a face. It isn't the little boy that's dirty, it isn't the little boy that doesn't smell good, it's not the child that's hungry. Poverty comes in any shape, form. It can happen to any family," said Danielle Kolb, PSU Student Teacher.
According to the Kansas Department for Children and Families, the poverty rate for children in Southeast Kansas is close to 30%. Some of the student-teachers at the event say they have already experienced some alarming realities working with impoverished children in the classrooms.