Goodwill Industries has a program for middle and high school students called Reality Check. On Tuesday Nov. 20, through PE classes, eighth graders at Central Academy Middle School found out what real life is like. Each had picked a profession a couple of weeks ago and whether to be single or married or to have children.
The Botetourt View shadowed one student, Dylan Snead as he spent his life at age 30 trying to make ends meet for one month.
Dylan chose to be married, had two children ages 1 and 3 and set out on his day in the life of an Athletic Trainer. His monthly income joint with his pretend wife: $6,083 after employment deduction taxes.
He bought a nice home, had a nice car, student loan payment for his college degree, purchased health insurance, paid taxes, insurances, groceries, new clothing, credit card debt, two cellular telephones and cable. For recreation, he owned a gold fish and could rent movies. He lucked out in the basket drawings of potential health and home disasters,but paid heavily for childcare and electric heat and air.
He asked, when faced with $580 in childcare expenses, “Couldn’t my Mom just keep them?” That was not an option in Reality Check. He chose to cut his hair at home, rented movies for entertainment, he had to give up golf, and the only pet he could afford was a goldfish. At the end, Dylan Snead still had $39 in his checking account.
He was awarded a star and received a toot on the megaphone for making ends meet. The first student to go under? Matthew Caldwell of Eagle Rock an amiable young man who sat on the bleachers and was sent to financial counseling.
Community business helpers as well as BTEC students, came to be part of the program. The Bank of Fincastle, Home Depot and many members of the Goodwill Industries staff were involved. Stephanie Hoer of Goodwill Youth services said, “The program has been in operation over 5 years and this is our 6th one so far this year. We will complete 30 by then end of 2013.”
Wanda Anthony of Goodwill who devised the game, sold cars. She said,” I think this will make them look at life choices differently. You have to put your needs before your wants which is not how America advertises itself. We used a simulation model close to real life. What you do in life will make a difference in how you live.”
Lisa Barnett, Career and Technical Education Specialist echoed the sentiment. “First time we’ve done this in Botetourt County. Hopefully it will encourage middle schoolers to make wise choices on their career paths.” Read Mountain Middle School students will participate in December.
Kevin Painchaud the PE teacher said,”I think if you parents make wise choices, the kids will learn from that, too.” He spoke of high cost of groceries, eating out and entertainment. He was amazed how few students chose the older, used car and opted for high ticket new cars. “I am driving the same old car making it last.” Car payments on the new cars in the financial model were in the $500-600 range and based on going rates.
Even for adults, it is a reality check to live in 2012.