The Merrill Area Healthy Lifestyles Network (MAHLN) in collaboration with Lincoln County University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Lincoln County Health Department are hosting a poverty simulation exercise. Jackie Carattini of Marathon County UW-Extension and Bonnie Rudie of Lincoln County UW-Extension will be the facilitators. This highly interactive event will take place on Sept. 23 from 8- 11:30 a.m. at Les and Jims Lincoln Lanes, 1208 N. Center Ave., Merrill.
With Lincoln County’s current unemployment rate at 9.9% (July, 2010; rank 7th out of 72 counties), and chronically high unemployment since the beginning of the Great Recession in December 2007, more local families are being forced into poverty or near poverty situations. One indication of this is that there was a 12.5% increase from the 2008-09 to 2009-10 school years in the number of families who applied for and received free and reduced lunch status for children attending Merrill Schools. Nearly half of students now possess that status. Statewide, the jump in such enrollments was about 5%. Most school districts in the area experienced much less severe increases then Merrill.
The simulation is an opportunity to sense what it is like to be in poverty in Lincoln County. Although the simulation can never truly be like the real thing, it will help teach you how to better relate to those who are struggling with day to day questions like:
•Will I be able to feed my family today?
•How will I get enough money to pay the bills?
•Will I ever find a job that can adequately support my family?
To reserve a space, call the Extension office at 715-539-1072 no later than Sept. 20. Questions may also be directed to the Extension office.