The trustees & staff of Mary Black Foundation have embarked on a health equity education series for 2017 around the five social determinants of health. Health equity is a social and physical environment that promotes good health for all of us. The five social determinants are: economic stability, education, social & community, health & health care, and neighborhood & built environment. In March, we focused on economic stability and participated in a poverty simulation. We were each given a different identity and a set of circumstances challenging us to work our way through the system. Jack McBride, chair of our trustees, made the following comments:
“The main feelings that came out of the poverty simulation were frustration and panic. We’ve all had those times in our lives when we feel overwhelmed and helpless, but in this exercise you can see where these feelings can become a daily occurrence. When you spend most of your time running around to find some way to afford housing, utilities, food, and clothing for yourself and your family, it is easy to see why healthcare, education, and the rest become luxuries which fall to the bottom of the priority list.
Playing the part of a child in the simulation, I saw my “parents” struggle to keep our family together. They were so busy trying to make ends meet, they didn’t have the time or energy to discipline and parent except an occasional “Don’t do that!”. My brother, sister, and I were left on our own to make our own decisions, and the results weren’t good. My sister was 16 years old and pregnant, and my brother and I just roamed the neighborhood looking for something to do.
The simulation gives a brief glimpse into what life is like when every day is a struggle. I am glad I do not have to worry about these issues, but it reinforces to me why our work at the Mary Black Foundation and organizations like it is so important to the overall health of our community.”