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Students walk in the shoes of the underprivileged

By Michelle Poirier [6]

BELLEVILLE – Students from the Child and Youth Care program [7] participated in a Poverty Challenge [8] around the Loyalist College [9] campus on Tuesday.

“It’s basically an experimental all-day-long workshop for our first-year students,” said Lisa Shunock, a Child and Youth Care professor. “They are experiencing a little glimpse into what it is like to live in poverty.

“So they go through a series of activities in the morning to kind of get at their thoughts around poverty and who are the people (that) live in poverty and why they live in poverty.”

The students were given challenges and had to gain acccess to different mock agencies set up around the college to get the support they needed, based on profiles of real people in this community facing poverty, she said. They then came together in the afternoon to talk about their experiences and brainstorm ideas to increase resources for people in need.

Some of the profiles that the first years were given were people with children or pets living in poverty. These were the students who had to carry around dolls – symbolizing the children or pets – all day, Shunock said.

“We are asking them to treat (the dolls) like a real child and carry them around. And if they have to go to an appointment, they can’t just set their baby on a bench and go in. They actually have to care for the child and make sure they are looking after the child and all the challenges that come with that,” she said.

The students involved in the event said they went through a realization that poverty is all around.

“We have to go through the steps (people living in poverty) have to go through,” Kara Mitchell, a first-year student, said. “Like, they have been kicked out or something and have to get money, housing and that sort of thing … For my program a lot of kids that we would be working with will have experienced this. So kind of experiencing it first hand we’ll know the kind of thing they had to go through themselves.”

Ebun Tomiwa, one of the third-year Child and Youth Care students who helped run the event, said it is really important.

“I feel like a lot of us don’t know what poverty even is,” he said. “A lot of us think that we are poor and that we are going through tough things, but you realize today that people are going through way tougher times.”

This is the third year the program has participated in the Poverty Challenge.

Here’s a video report from QNet News’s Aynslee Darmon [10]: