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Running Head: SUSTAINABILITY IN POVERTY

Alexa Carrasco and Morgan Vezeau


PPE 310: Health Literacy
Sustainability in Poverty
Signature Assignment
Arizona State University
Professor Mary Dean

SUSTAINABILITY IN POVERTY

Introduction
Poverty is the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support
(Dictionary). Many families in Arizona schools are facing this reality today. Arizona has second
worst poverty rate behind Mississippi (Beard). Considering Maslows Hierarchy of needs, when
ones lowest level is not fulfilled it is difficult to think about much else. The plan is to intervene
and promote activity within schools to provide meals, physical activity, and professional
development for teachers to provide solutions for these students and their families in their
classrooms.
It is common for people to associate poverty with many stereotypes. These assumptions
can lead to labels for students. With interactive workshops created for teachers in schools,
teachers can plan to peel off the label and instead intervene and provide solutions for struggling
families to get back on their feet. It is important to discuss the importance counteracting poverty
and preventing future happenings with students.
As part of a professional development, teachers and students can help get in the mindset
of those who are unfortunate enough to live in poverty. People believe poverty is one mindset
and situation. While most people believe people in poverty are just poor, they do not realize the
obstacles and situations they are dealt with. This workshop for students and teachers is called
Poverty 101.
Poverty 101 is a role-play simulation where people were given a partner and a role and
had to try to makes ends meet using only what they had. The role play involves a persons
monthly income, living situation, age, number of children to support, and resources. Not every
character has the same resources; some may be able to afford groceries while others have to
travel to the soup kitchen. Likewise, not every person can look for help due to immigration

SUSTAINABILITY IN POVERTY

status. Poverty 101 may be a role play, but it is a look into the real lives and situations millions of
people face every single day. It is the responsibility for current and future educators to know and
understand what poverty is in order to support the diverse student population.
Review of Current Literature
There is not one singular cause to the growing epidemic of poverty. However, master
level researchers have gone above and beyond to look at similarities and connections within the
large group of people living in poverty today and extending 15 years back. Since then, the
number of people living in poverty has increased. The percentage of United States citizens
living below the federal poverty line increased from 32,907,000 to 46,200,000 between the years
from 2001 to 2011 (Bray & Balkin, 2013). This increase is a result of economic downfalls in the
United States as well as a cycle of poverty continuing through social class.
Much of the research implied that the cultural and social background of a family impacts
greatly on their socio-economic status. The social structures, situations, and atmospheric
qualities of a family, especially those who raise multiple children, are some of the few reasons
behind the increasing number and cycle poverty in the United States. The individualistic
explanation taps into a deeply held belief within U.S. society that each person is responsible for
his or her place in the social system and that capitalism provides equal and ample opportunities
to all who are willing to work hard (Bray & Balkin, 2013). When one person does not hold the
responsibility, they spread it to their loved ones and the cycle of poverty continues.
This directly affects the children in schools. Students are too mentally, physically, and
emotionally drained to fully function in school and develop their brains (Brown, 2014).
Childrens health and development become at risk. Findings suggest there is a neurological
correlation for cognitive delays in children who are poor (Pavlakis, Noble, Pavlakis, Ali, &

SUSTAINABILITY IN POVERTY

Frank, 2015). It is important to consider savings to society from effects on multiple domains of
child and family functioning, including not just M-E-B health but educational attainment, school
achievement, and earnings, to name a few with economic implications (Yoshikawa, Aber, &
Beardslee, 2012).To increase the value of healthy living and educational outcomes for students in
poverty, a high quality education must be established as an early intervention.
Students from affluent backgroundsregardless of race or ethnicityhave a running
head start on kids whose parents struggle to make ends meet (Wallenstein, 2012). Too many
children are growing up in poverty. Not only does this have an effect on their health, but it
likewise has long-term effects on their character. The quality they put on education goes down
because most families cannot afford it (Colclough, 2012). A good early education costs almost as
much as college which families in poverty usually cannot afford without scholarships or financial
aid, but is imperative when it comes to early intervention for students.
Students and teachers are directly affected by poverty. Teachers must unite with other
professionals to fight the negative outcomes of poverty and provide a better quality of life,
education, and health for these poor students. It is the responsibility of the teacher to be
culturally responsive when it comes to their students. Culturally responsive teaching is a mindset
and way of being in the classroom, rather than a list of techniques and strategies (Sato &
Lensmire, 2009). This means going above and beyond for ones students (as every educator
should) in a way that best fits their needs as a student and human being.
Obviously teachers must teach without bias in the classroom. However, teachers must
have a full understanding of all of their students and schedule appointments and issues surveys to
get a larger perspective on family history. With all students, teachers must form a trustworthy

SUSTAINABILITY IN POVERTY

bond. Once the bond and rapport with the families is established, teachers can help provide
educational values and physical necessities for students.
More often than not, these students living in poverty come to class hungry. Their only
meal may be free and reduced lunch (expansion on this demographic in the synthesis portion).
Snacks are always a good resource in the classroom for students who have trouble focusing
because they have not eaten. Knowing the childs living situation and forming a bond is
important to help students have a sense of wellbeing because they are safe. Maslows hierarchy
of needs depends on the basic necessities and emotional health for the foundation of proper
mental health development.
Most importantly, teachers are educators of everything. They can use morals and
curriculum standards to create lessons within their lessons to teach students how to break out of
bad situations and become successful, healthy human beings. Teachers must educate students to
know how to overcome poverty and maintain healthy lifestyles as adults to prevent the epidemic
of poverty.
Synthesis
Highland Park Elementary is a school located in the Gilbert school district and has
around 900 students. The White population of the school makes up about 79.8%. The other
ethnicities go as follows: African-American: 2.1%, Asian: 3.3%, Hispanic: 12.2% and two or
more races are at 1.9%. Both American Indian and Pacific Islander ethnic groups represent less
than half a percent of the school. It is a public school and not a Title I school.
A comparing school in the Chandler school district is Chandler Traditional AcademyHumphrey. This school is formally known as Humphrey Elementary School and was a Title I
school before becoming a traditional academy. Ethnicities go as follows: 47.7% white, 9.9%

SUSTAINABILITY IN POVERTY

African American, 34.2%, Hispanic, 5.3% Asian, and 3% American Indian. More than half of
these students (54.4%) receive free or reduced lunch. For many, this is their only meal of the day.
Christopher Colclough is very inspirational when speaking of students living in poverty.
In his journal article he states the educational spending and policies of a state or district directly
correlates with the socio-economic status of the area (Colclough, 2012). He also states the
correlation of educational values as poorer states tend to have lower primary enrollments than
richer ones (Colclough, 2012). Economic status has a huge impact on educational outcomes. Part
of the reason it affects the educational outcomes are the health and cognitive risks that come
along with poverty.
Findings suggest a number of neurobiological scans correlate for cognitive delays in
children who are poor (Pavlakis, Noble, Pavlakis, Ali, & Frank, 2015). The developmentally
delayed brain structures of the students from the 2015 study suggested the hippocampus was
obstructed and undeveloped because of the stress coming from poverty (Pavlakis, Noble,
Pavlakis, Ali, & Frank, 2015). The students brains physically and emotionally could not handle
the stress from their living situation. The combination of mental, emotional, behavioral, and
physical health of students living in poverty further proves the lower cognitive and academic
achievement they will show. It is all a direct correlation (See Appendix D). Multiple authors have
agreed that poverty negatively affects health and educational outcomes. This furthermore proves
the importance of counteracting poverty in school, to better the lives of students.
As previously mentioned, students come to school hungry as a result from their living
situation. These problems were then related back to Maslows hierarchy of needs. With further
research, it was discovered that the school with higher test scores is indeed Highland Park. It
could be a coincidence, but Humphrey has a much higher demographic of poor students and their

SUSTAINABILITY IN POVERTY

test scores are 40 points less than Highland park and barely passing the Arizona average, This
could mean that poverty not only affects mental, physical, and emotional health, but also
educational values and aptitude.
Practical Implications
A school is more than a place for education. It is a community built on a strong
foundation focused and committed to families. There can and should be proposals to
administration and other colleagues at the school about new staff involvement, policies, and
professional development workshops on how to better students in classroom living in poverty.
One of the best ways to educate the community about poverty is by implementing a professional
development for the whole school. Students need a healthy and active curriculum to provide
opportunity for change and expansion. This is a comprehensible approach and staff, students, and
parents would be welcomed to be a part of the experience.
Poverty 101 is a workshop for parents, staff, and students to have a firm understanding on
avoiding poverty and the perspectives of people living with it. Through these workshops the
PTSO can help fundraise to raise awareness of poverty or create a scholarship for students who
are living in poverty and need to help their family.
Poverty 101 would be a campus event run by staff and students who would play the parts
of DES, bus drivers, and food kitchen workers who help bring the role playing to life.
Participants would be given role plays (see appendix A) and only a certain amount of money and
limitations while trying to survive using their limited resources. Through this participants will
understand how difficult it is to provide for themselves and see the world through the eyes of a
person living in poverty. This experience hopefully raises awareness and sympathy to help those
less fortunate.

SUSTAINABILITY IN POVERTY

Another practical way of involving family and community support is to have sign-up
sheets for people to provide dinner for those who are living in need (See Appendix C). Often
times those who are living in poverty do not have resources to have a home cooked meal. By
using the sign-up sheet, families in the neighborhood can help provide for those who are living in
need. Families can provide weekly dinner meals for a family. It would be like being a sponsor
and it can be 100% anonymous.
Although there has been talk about how to help people who are living in poverty now,
there needs to be a starting conversation with students about how to avoid this situation. Students
in the classroom need to be more aware of what is happening in the world. One way of doing this
is by gently showing them images of people living in poverty and how that may happen.
Educating students know about a quality education and financial planning can better protect
them for the future. Moreover, colleges and high schools need to provide better opportunity for
students to receive scholarship funds in order to have a respectable higher education. This means
teachers should also be talking about politics in the classroom and how presidency can help
determine how government taxes will be used to benefit their education.
If the school is placed in a less than affluent neighborhood, there are other ways for the
community to be involved financially. Project Bread features a 5k Walk for Hunger (see
Appendix B) that promotes active lifestyles and raise awareness to fund programs for hunger
relief. This is a student driven fun run that the student council would collaborate with the PTSO
to form. All students can run and be involved to unite and find solutions for hunger. Fun runs are
also an exciting way to market and fundraise for scholarship opportunities. Overall, it is
important for there to be resources and education within the community to help beat poverty.
Conclusion

SUSTAINABILITY IN POVERTY

Poverty affects mental and physical health. There must be changes in todays society to
help support families living in poverty. Poverty will have long-term effects on student
perspective of education. Unable to get out of their situation, many students will drop out. Only
about 74% of low-income students are graduating as opposed to 90% of all other students
(Brown, 2014). A good early education or a higher education costs thousands of dollars and both
are often unable to obtain without scholarships or financial aid. Without money or an education,
the cycle continues with their children.
To stop this unhealthy cycle, students and teachers must come together to educate those
around them. Through fundraising, workshops, and overall literary education, communities can
get together to make a difference.
When it comes to love and belonging, a student could feel ostracized, shunned, or
neglected by peers who live more privileged lives. Bullying is an absolute NO in the classroom.
Feeling safe and secure in the learning environment is always number one. Teachers must
promise as culturally responsive educators and rid the class of any negative attitudes through
honorable discipline. Class should instead be full of positive energy, friendship, and
encouragement.
Many of helping children in poverty, and children overall, is by using the Maslows
model to evaluate how a student is functioning. When a student is facing hard times, it is difficult
to have the basic needs required to grow as a person and student. Educational techniques such as
speech, resource classrooms, and priming may be a route for some students in the future.
However, emotional support is the backbone before a child is able to focus in the classroom.
Besides the effect on childrens physical health, poverty takes a toll their emotional state
of mind. Too many Arizona children are growing up in poverty. Not only does this have an effect

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10

on their health, but it likewise has long-term effects on their character. Teachers, students, and
communities have the opportunity to shape minds and change the world. Through a variety of
solutions and implications, schools can implement ideas, bring them to life, and better the lives
of students and families in need.
Many positive outcomes can be achieved if communities reach out to better the world. Dropout
rates of low-income students will drop, educational values will rise, and the cycle of poverty for
families (especially children) will eventually end. Promoting healthy living with great
educational support is one of the many first steps in fixing the epidemic of poverty.

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References
Beard, B. (2011, January 24). Poverty Casts Longer Shadow on Arizonans. Arizona Republic
Bray, S., & Balkin, R. S. (2013). Master's-level students' beliefs concerning the causes of
poverty, implicit racial attitudes, and multicultural competency. Journal of Professional
Counseling: Practice, Theory & Research, 40(2), 33-44.
Brown, D. T. (2014). Instilling Resilience in Students of Poverty. Education Digest, 80(1), 28-31
Carrasco, A. (2014). Perspectives in Poverty Lesson Plans. Unpublished Manuscript. Arizona
State University
Colclough, C. (2012). Education, Poverty and Development - Mapping Their Interconnections.
Comparative Education, 48(2), 135-148.
Pavlakis, A. E., Noble, K., Pavlakis, S. G., Ali, N., & Frank, Y. (2015). Brain imaging and
electrophysiology biomarkers: Is there a role in poverty and education outcome research?
Pediatric Neurology, 52(4), 383-388.
Project Bread Walk for Hunger 2016 [Photograph found in Project Bread]. (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://www.projectbread.org/walk-for-hunger/images/walk2016_5k_logo_rgb_rev_1.jpg
Sato, M., & Lensmire, T. J. (2009). Poverty and Payne. Phi Delta Kappan, 90(5), 365-370.
Wallenstein, R. (2012). Educating students of poverty: One schools story. Schools: Studies in
Education, 9(2), 160175.
Yoshikawa, H., Aber, J. L., & Beardslee, W. R. (2012). The effects of poverty on the mental,
emotional, and behavioral health of children and youth: Implications for prevention.
American Psychologist, 67(4), 272-284.

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APPENDIX A
Erica Rodriquez Role Description:
You and your husband are undocumented workers. You are eight months pregnant. You have
very limited English speaking and writing skills. Your husband works full-time for a landscaping
company for $4.00/hour. Your monthly income is $640. You live in a studio apartment. You pay
$450 a month for rent, and your utilities are included in your rent. You send $100 home every
month to your parents in Mexico. You are afraid to go to the DES for fear of being sent back to
Mexico. You have no telephone, and walking is your only means of transportation.
Status:

Undocumented

Monthly Income:

$640

# in Household:

DES Appointment:

No

Telephone:

No

Transportation:

No

Distance to Food Store:

1 mile

Distance to DES:

mile

Distance to Community Dining Room:

Reflections:

I appreciate

My major stress is

I am happy when

I have no time for

4 miles

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APPENDIX A CONTINUED
Irene Sanders Role Description:
You are the single mother of three small children, ages 12, 7, and 4. You are a short-order cook
at a local restaurant, for which you are paid $7.50/hour. Your monthly income is $1,200, and you
pay $200 in taxes each month. You live in a two-bedroom apartment, and pay $550 a month in
rent and $70 a month in utilities. You also pay $300 a month in childcare for your 4-year-old
child. Your only means of transportation is the bus, and you do not have a telephone. You have
an appointment with the social services agent at DES to apply for food stamps, and have already
filled out the Food Stamp Application.

Status:
Monthly Income:

$1,200

# in Household:

DES Appointment:

Yes

Telephone:

No

Transportation:

Yes

Distance to Food Store:


Distance to DES:
Distance to Community Dining Room:

Reflections:

I appreciate

My major stress is

I am happy when

I have no time for

Documented

3 miles
2 miles
1 mile

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APPENDIX A CONTINUED
Jack Thompson Role Description:
You were recently laid off from your job with a local sheet metal factory, but you have
temporarily found work as a janitor at a local school. You earn the minimum wage, so your
monthly income is $825. You pay $75 a month in taxes. You and your wife recently had your
first child. Because times have been tough since the babys birth and the loss of your job, you
wife began working part-time at a bakery, and earns $300 a month. Your combined income per
month is $1,125. You own your house, and your mortgage is $700 a month. You pay
approximately $100 a month in utilities. Items for the newborn, doctor visits, and part-time
childcare cost you $100 each month. You do not have a phone, but you have an old car that
breaks down frequently, and is not covered by insurance.
Status:

Documented

Monthly Income:

$1,125

# in Household:

DES Appointment:

No

Telephone:

No

Transportation:

Yes

Distance to Food Store:

2 miles

Distance to DES:

3 miles

Distance to Community Dining Room:


Reflections:

I appreciate

My major stress is

I am happy when

I have no time for

mile

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APPENDIX A CONTINUED
Mary ODonnell Role Description:
You are a 72-year-old woman, and live in a one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living facility
in rural Arizona. Your husband died recently, and you receive a portion of his pension, $200 a
month. You also receive $250 a month in Social Security benefits, and pay no taxes. The rent
for your apartment is subsidized by the state, so you pay only $250 a month for it. You also pay
$50 for utilities, and spend $75 a month on phone calls to your only son, who lives out-of-state.
You have been in poor health recently, and can eat only soft, bland foods. Your only access to
transportation is with the assisted living facilitys van service.
Status:

Documented

Monthly Income:

$450

# in Household:

DES Appointment:

No

Telephone:

Yes

Transportation:

Yes

Distance to Food Store:

2 miles

Distance to DES:

35 miles

Distance to Community Dining Room:

35 miles

Reflections:

I appreciate

My major stress is

I am happy when

I have no time for

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APPENDIX A CONTINUED
Rick Rhodes Role Description:
You are a physically disabled single adult. You work part-time as a credit card customer service
representative for $6.25/hour. You make $500 in a month, and no income taxes are taken from
your income. You have a studio apartment in an assisted living facility, and part of the rent is
subsidized by the state. So, you pay $250 a month in rent and $50 for utilities. Your phone bill
each month is $25. In addition, you must pay $100 for physical therapy each month. Your only
mode of transportation is the community bus for the physically disabled. You have an
appointment with a social services agent at DES to apply for food stamps, and you have already
filled out the Food Stamp Application.
Status:

Documented

Monthly Income:

$500

# in Household:

DES Appointment:

Yes

Telephone:

Yes

Transportation:

Yes

Distance to Food Store:

mile

Distance to DES:

10 miles

Distance to Community Dining Room:

4 miles

Reflections:

I appreciate

My major stress is

I am happy when

I have no time for

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APPENDIX B

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APPENDIX C

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APPENDIX D
Below is a conceptual framework of the correlation of student health and achievement for those
living in poverty. This comes directly from Hirokazu Yoshikawa, J. Lawrence Aber, and William
R. Beardslee and their collaboration on the journal article The Effects of Poverty on the Mental,
Emotional, and Behavioral Health of Children and Youth: Implications for Prevention
(Yoshikawa, Aber, & Beardslee, 2012).