a combined blogpost written by Naomi Barasch, Shawn Arsenault, Steven Palmer, Madeline
with input from Class 5/6F
Today Tom Cooper (Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction) and HWDSB Trustee Alex Johnstone are here to talk to us about poverty and how we can help. I’m so exited to learn more about poverty, how it works, how you end up in poverty, and how we can make a difference to stop poverty. We were joined for most of the presentation by our principal, Mrs. Bosher, who joined us in tweeting out our new learning! Our starting off point has been to think and write about the importance of donating to the annual Rousseau Winter Clothing Drive (“Coat Drive”) — and now we are taking it to the next level!
- when people who don’t have money to pay for everything
- not being able to pay for food rent clothes etc.
- poverty grows every day
- minimum wage in Hamilton is $10/hr x 40 hours a week (full time work) = 400 dollars…which isn’t enough to pay for food and a house (even renting)
- a minimum wage (the lowest amount of $ employers are legally required to pay workers) is less than a living wage (having what you need to live)
- more people have a minimum wage than a living wage
- Hamilton has one of the highest poverty rates in the province (EDITOR: 3rd highest, behind Windsor and then Toronto)
- Canada was a welfare state after WWII; many social assistance programs have been cut since then
- government needs to help raise the amount of money needed for social assistance (welfare)
Tom told us that there are many things that you have to pay for like food clothing, rent, food, transportation, utilities (heat, hydro), telephone and even childcare.
You have to pay a lot of money to pay for these things. If you were in poverty you might be barely hanging in there, and that’s if you have a job. Even then, at minimum wage, after paying for what you need, you would not have any money left. $1057.45 is about how much you would have to pay to just survive. Minimum wage is about $10 an hour (x 40 hours/week = $400), so even if you had a job you would have to work all the time, 24/7 to pay for what you need!
We did an activity with Tom where we tried to guess all the different things needed for one person to live in a month and he had a piece of a bar graph to represent each thing. Tom made a bar out of all the items (bar on left side of picture)
- shelter (about $536 or a bachelor apartment)
- clothing & shoes (about $87)
- food (about $250)
- items for hygiene (about $81)
- telephone ($24)
- transportation ($87 for a bus pass)
TOTAL $ NEEDED: about $1057.45 per month
Then Tom had a bar (on the right side) to show how much money a person on social assistance receives: $599 per month. We were able to compare the two bars: obvious, social assistance barely covers half of what a person needs.
- spread the word!! Educate other students and even adults about how poverty can be solved!
- you could donate money to food banks, clothing to clothing drives, toys to toy drives — these address very important immediate needs!
- you could be a volunteer: food banks, drive seniors living in poverty, soup kitchens
- senior citizens make up a large portion of people living in poverty: you could help a senior in your neighbourhood, shovel snow in winter
- single moms and their children make up a large portion of families living in poverty: you could provide babysitting for free for someone you know that can’t a babysitter
- ask people if they have extra food or clothing to donate to a food bank or winter clothing drive; you c ould raise money, give some money to someone raising money for people in need
- grow a community garden – grow fresh vegetables for people in need (fresh produce can be expensive; Trustee Johnstone said that many people living on social assistance eat a lot of pasta and other noodles because it is cheaper and pasta and noodles don’t go bad without refrigeration….so the people will miss out on fresh fruit and vegetables)
- donate sporting equipment to children who need it (two of our hockey playing students said that their teams participate in this)
- (“Right to Play” http://www.righttoplay.com/canada/pages/home.aspx — hires kids in the community to work at their organization to provide kids with an opportunity to do sports)
- GENERAL HELPFULNESS: being a good friend: If someone is being singled out, ask them to join the group, practice helping people who are marginalized (“left out”)
- buy school supplies for children living in poverty
- every school with students living in poverty should have a breakfast program
How old do you have to be to volunteer?Read about Craig Kielburger 🙂 He was 12 when he started helping children escape child slavery in India.YWCA: high school age volunteersSoup kitchens -any age
You need the consent of your parent and supervision of an adult to be a volunteer.…but you are not too young to help.
Students tweeted out throughout the presentation on the class ipod, 8 school ipods and Ms Fawcett’s iPhone and iPod. We blogged on Ms Fawcett’s personal iPad.
Mrs. Galvin (5/6F parent) also joined us and had this to say, “Thank you for educating our children on poverty in our community. The media emphasis is World poverty and we tend to forget about local friends and families in need. It is a very concerning issue that needs to be advocated by all…young and old. Thank you again…helping one by one until there are none. If only….. ” Thank you, Mrs. Galvin!
EDITOR’S NOTE: As the teacher of this class, it felt so good to hear students to connect to everything that was spoken about. Students were engaged with the presenters, their classmates, the issues and the world by tweeting out their reflections. More than that, hearing students express empathy and sharing all the ways that they are already helping (or their families are helping, or the organizations they belong to are helping) was overwhelming and gives an overall feeling of hope as this potentially sad topic was discussed.
Grade 5 continued with multiplication, practising multiplying by 10 and multiples of 10. Grade 6 continued to work on Order of Operations, and we are challenging ourselves to use order of operations to solve word problems for homework and tomorrow! Students were able to model solutions: