AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - "I am Al Aber, I am a 10 year old boy and I have learned I have two siblings and both of my parents are out of a job and we only have $200 in savings."
Auburn University Freshman, Emily Hale, describes the family she has just been assigned as a part of a poverty simulation led by the organization dedicated to reducing poverty and its roots, Alabama Possible.
"It's been really eye opening to see the true state of poverty in our state," says Hale.
According to Alabama Possible nearly 900,000 Alabamians, including 300,000 children, live below the federal poverty line.
Many more live near the poverty line, which is about $23,000 a year for a family of four.
"We all know someone who lives in poverty. We may not know it, and that is one of the biggest challenges is that it is really uncomfortable for us to talk about," explains Alabama Possible Executive Director, Kristina Scott.
During the simulation, nearly 60 incoming freshman from AU's Honors College, role-played the lives of families living at or below the poverty level and learned the challenges they face every day, for example, maintaining employment, caring for children, and seeking public assistance.
"The average income for people in poverty, even if you double that amount, it's still hard to live on and so by putting ourselves in the position that have tough circumstances, we can kind of see where they come from and how we cam impact them and help them out," says Auburn student, Chase Richburg.
Many of the participating Auburn students in Monday's simulation will join Alabama Possible's Blueprints College Access this year as mentors to students at Opelika High School.
The mentors will help students navigate the college admissions process.
"By 2018 most jobs in Alabama will require some form of education after high school. We want our young people to be equipped, be competitive in the workforce," says Scott.