Up to 100 individuals in Haywood County will get a chance to walk in the shoes of a person mired in poverty next week.

The three-hour or so event promises to be a real eye-opener, said Patsy Davis of Mountain Projects, Inc., which arranged to have the event brought to Haywood County through the N.C. Community Action Association.

During the simulation, attendees will be assigned the identity of a person who faces the challenges of poverty on a daily basis. Each participant is given an identity and a family scenario to follow.

Armed with a little fake money and a Social Security card, the families must navigate their lives the best they can. This means paying rent, buying food, paying utilities, making loan payments, purchasing clothes and even dealing with unexpected factors like car problems or a health emergency.

A similar event was held last fall where the experience proved to be more than educational for some of the participants. Some were so frustrated, that to their horror, they resorted to robbery and theft.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14.7 percent of North Carolinians are living in poverty; by rate of comparison, Haywood County has 15.9 percent of its residents living in poverty.

Following the simulation, which frustrated all, a debriefing session was held to determine what could be done about poverty within the community.

Those interested in participating in the Feb. 27 event set for 1 to 4:30 p.m. should register by emailing aensley@mountainprojects.org.

Volunteers who have been through the experience previously are also needed to help out with the experience.

For more information, call 452-1447.

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