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‘Week in the life’ of poverty

Eviction, jail, social services and the pawn shop is how 32 Calgarians spent their Sunday — but the hardships for the group were just an experimental poverty-simulation exercise.

Eviction, jail, social services and the pawn shop is how 32 Calgarians spent their Sunday — but the hardships for the group were just an experimental poverty-simulation exercise.

The group of people in their 20s and 30s spent the day simulating a “week in the life” of a family or individual living paycheque to paycheque, as part of an Urban Exposure project.

Despite the hardships not being real, the participants felt the stress and pressure hands-on during the exercise, according to project coordinator Rhiannon MacDonnell.

“It was an opportunity for them to learn about poverty in our community and we hope it helps create a dialogue about the issues,” she said.

The participants had to simulate pawning their belongings to make rent, asking for payday loans and commit crimes and go to jail to support their family.

“I think it’s an avenue of giving them hands-on experiences to feel what it’s like to be in the day of a life of some people who are living in poverty.”

For Vania Poon, 24, the experience was eye-opening.

“It showed me that there are agencies out there to help people. I think the best way for Calgarians to help is to volunteer or give to those agencies that are there for the people who need it,” she said.