A Walk in Another's Shoes
Organized by: Clara Waddell
First, let us just say: you are awesome! Period. Thank you for taking the time to visit this page.
A little bit about who we are:
Raj: Dr. Raj is a full-time professor in the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice at Metropolitan State University. He's a motivational speaker, avid coffee drinker, and wearer of sharp suits. He also was the 2015 MN Corrections person of the Year for the work he does in the MN prison system, and was a 2016 recipient of the St. Paul Foundation's Facing Race Ambassador Award for his work with the poverty simulations. During the poverty simulations, Raj runs all of the group discussions and is the event leader.
Lindsay: Lindsay is a full-time probation officer in MN. She is the coach and go-getter of the group. She trains and pumps up our volunteers for the poverty simulations, and is in charge of making sure everyone knows what they are supposed to do for an event.
Clara: Clara works full-time at AccessAbility, an organization dedicated to helping individuals in the community to overcome barriers (specifically to employment and education). She's obsessed with Game of Thrones (hold the door), can spin a basketball on her finger for 10 minutes at a time, and likes to write screenplays for fun. She also is the coordinator, organizing guru for the poverty simulations. She's the introvert of the group, but has way too much creativity for her own good.
Our Story: Since the summer of 2015, Raj, Lindsay and Clara have been conducting poverty simulations as a way to connect with the Twin Cities community. Dr. Raj is a Criminal Justice professor at Metropolitan State University, and during the summer of 2015, he sought to develop a new class for the Law Enforcement Skills program (another way of saying police academy) -- Raj wanted this class to specifically cover issues of poverty and the impact it plays in one's community. Clara and Lindsay both were familiar with Raj's work, and volunteered to help him run the simulations. And with that, a team was born. Members of the Twin Cities community heard about the poverty simulations we were conducting and how mindful and extraordinatry the experience was. Now, we are running simulations for Metro State, for St. Paul and Minneapolis high schools and elementary schools, for administrators, community leaders, law enforcement organizations, and more. It's a great, meaningful way to connect and heal with the community, and we are honored to be able to work with these organizations to tackle the many facets of poverty.
Why do you need to buy a kit? Our simulations have become so popular that we need to purchase our own kit. Right now we borrow a kit, as we've not been able to afford our own, and we've got so many exciting things we'd like to add to the kit, we feel it'd be most effective to have our own. Also, we are starting to host as many as two simulations a month, and we want to make sure we always have a kit available when we need it. The simulation kit is a $2000+ package made by the Missouri Association for Community Action, in which the materials are provided to jumpstart a simulation event (fake money, 70+ family roles, 25+ community roles, and all the supplies).
What is a poverty simulation? The poverty simulation is not a game, but rather is designed to give participants a glimpse into the reality of those that live in poverty. It's an event that raises one's awareness and consiousness by having participants and volunteers actively be in scenarios that mirror the lives of individuals living in poverty.
How the simulation works: The simulation is divided into four 15-minute sessions. Each of the four segments represents a week in real-time, with the end result being a month. A simulation has an average of 50 participants and 23 volunteers. The participantsare divided into "family groups" where they are given a packet that explains the current scenario that that family is living in. Each family scenario is different, ranging from a family of five where a parent just lost a job to a single mom living on food stamps. The volunteers are assigned community roles (banker, grocery clerk, social services, etc), where they are given a script and packet to re-create the scenarios individuals living in poverty might encounter in real life. After each simulation has concluded, a circle discussion takes place between the participants, event coordinators, and volunteers to break down the simulation and discuss what was learned, witness, revealed, disappointing, interesting, unexpected, etc. The end result is to raise one's awareness (about community, about family, about poverty), and to learn what resources are available and what can be done moving forward.
**If you have any questions about the work we do or ever want to be a volunteer for one of the simulations, we are ALWAYS ALWAYS looking for extra helpers.
At the end of the day, it's about making a difference, no matter how small. Helping each other. Caring for our community. Appreciating the little things. With your help, our team can purchase the kit and keep working with members of the community to learn, heal, and generate awareness. The work we do is small, but it's powerful and meaningful.
If we meet our fundraising goal, we plan to use any additional money for: renting space for hosting simulations, providing food for participants, helping with transportation, and building a resource guide to give to any and everyone who wants one.
Thank you for supporting us.