Participants Gain Insight into Another Reality at Living on the Edge Event

Participants Gain Insight into Another Reality at Living on the Edge Event

Organized by the United Way of Thunder Bay and Literacy Northwest, “Living on the Edge” aimed to simulate the challenges faced by families living in poverty. Each participant, like characters in a play, was assigned a role in a family unit and handed a scenario that would dictate their decisions and struggles for the day.

Albert Brulé, the CEO of United Way of Thunder Bay, described his role as a single father responsible for two teenage daughters and a young son. His scenario included navigating bills, work schedules, school runs, and crucial decisions about household repairs. The simulation immersed them all in a world where financial insecurity dictated every move.

Breanna Reid, a participant from the Elizabeth Fry Society of Northwestern Ontario, joined because she was intrigued by the idea of simulating poverty—a stark contrast to her experiences in Jamaica. Her character, a 15-year-old juggling school and a part-time job while caring for a sick mother undergoing chemotherapy, mirrored the harsh realities she had witnessed firsthand.

During the simulation, Reid faced challenges that echoed real-life struggles: a robbery that left her frustrated with the fictional police response, and the heart-wrenching eviction of her family from their home—a fate shared by many participants.

Reflecting on her experience, Reid described it as “eye-opening,” highlighting the overwhelming complexity of trying to survive on a low income. The simulation had succeeded in fostering empathy among participants, revealing the daunting choices and relentless stress that define poverty.

For Brulé and the organizers, “Living on the Edge” wasn’t just a workshop—it was a tool to bridge the gap between perception and reality. It offered volunteers a raw glimpse into the lives of their clients, enabling them to better understand and serve those facing similar predicaments.

As the event concluded and participants shed their simulated roles, they carried with them a newfound perspective. The echoes of their experience lingered—an indelible reminder of the resilience and struggle of those living on the edge of society’s prosperity.

In a world where empathy can be scarce, events like “Living on the Edge” serve as poignant reminders that understanding begins with walking a mile in someone else’s worn-out shoes.

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Participants Gain Insight into Another Reality at Living on the Edge Event