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Heart of Illinois residents learn about the plight of low-income families

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EAST PEORIA (HOI) - Some Heart of Illinois residents learned a lesson about empathy Friday by understanding the feelings and experiences of others who have financial challenges.

Participants in a poverty simulation in East Peoria found out what it's like to live on $20,000 a year.

East Peoria schools teamed up with the University of Illinois Extension to host the event.

"I think what we're going to notice from this is what it takes to get a family from the beginning of the month to the end, and how sometimes it's not just making sure all these things are taken care of, my kid's homework and everything I have to worry about right now," said Principal Brad Wood.

"I have to pay the light bill, and I'm short a check this month. What am I going to do?"

Instead of worrying about homework, some students may be more concerned when they'll have food on the table again.

"There are teachers realizing, wow, it's not because we have bad parents in our schools, it's because there's so much weight that comes on someone in poverty. Extremely eye opening," said Brian Uhlenhopp of the Dream Center.

Along with teaching participants about the harsh reality of poverty, the simulation aims to encourage conversations how to address poverty in their communities.

Howard Packowitz

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