On Saturday, May 29, 2015, Dr. Karen Barber presented a Poverty Simulation Training in the gymnasium located at the Milton Community Center in Milton, Florida. Dr. Barber is the President and spokesperson for Bridges Out of Poverty. This training was intended to help identify children and families who are at risk of being in poverty and to share information about available benefits and how to access them. Milton has a population of 9,000 people and out of those 9,000 over 30 percent are in impoverished conditions.
Additionally, the purpose of the training was to bring awareness of poverty and the effects that it has on the communities in terms of employment, education, and healthcare. When a community has a poverty issue it impacts the well-being of people particularly in these areas.
On Saturday, local professionals such as educators, health care providers, AmeriCorps workers and city of Milton officials were able to see how, on a daily basis, poverty stricken people suffer and how they must feel by literally wearing the kind of shoes they wear. During the training there was a lot of role-playing and scenarios of how persons living in poverty struggle to provide for themselves and their families. There were discussions of how some of the residents in Milton have full scholarships to the University of West Florida and Pensacola State College, but cannot get to those schools because the City of Milton has no public transportation system.
One of the councilwomen of Milton, Mary Johnson (an African American), showed support of Dr. Karen Barber because she believes that the community should get more involved in helping its citizens receive public transportation. The concensus was that all should work together to see the community’s children flourish in Milton instead of being forced to move away from Milton. By remaining in their own community, positive changes can promote positive differences. When the event concluded, many of the people felt they had more insight on how poverty affects people and the question was asked by one of the participants, how can we really solve this problem?