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'Poverty simulation event': Affluent Dem city cancels tone-deaf 'immersive experience' at country club following criticism
Highland Park Country Club in Highland Park, Illinois (Steve Sadin/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

'Poverty simulation event': Affluent Dem city cancels tone-deaf 'immersive experience' at country club following criticism

An affluent, mostly Democratic suburban city in Illinois announced Thursday that it had decided to cancel its "poverty simulation event," an "immersive experience" that was slated to be held at a government-owned country club.

The event was scheduled for Saturday at the Highland Park Country Club in Highland Park, Illinois, but received widespread and overwhelming criticism for being tone-deaf.

According to the Insider, the location was chosen because it was the only government-owned space large enough to accommodate the event's approximately 100 participants. Highland Park Country Club is not a private country club, the Chicago Tribune reported.

"The September 9 Poverty Simulation event facilitated by the Alliance for Human Services has been canceled," the city wrote on Facebook.

In the original event posting, Highland Park explained that the experience would "increase residents' understanding and awareness of what it is like to live in poverty in Lake County."

Despite being a two-and-a-half hour event, the city promised an "immersive experience" that would simulate "what a 'month' in poverty feels like."

"Participants are put into situations in which they do not have enough resources and are forced to make difficult choices that can negatively impact them and their families. The outcome is increased awareness of the need for resources to support those living in poverty to create a more resilient health, human, and education sector in our local area. Participation is free, but registration is required," the city stated.

The social media post about the event received over 2,200 comments, overwhelmingly from those criticizing the concept.

"The fact that people sat around and discussed this and thought, this is a great idea is absolutely insane," one Facebook user responded to the event post.

"Sorry can't make it to this one but let me know when the 'What it's like to be filthy rich and out of touch' simulation event happens! That might be fun!" another wrote.

"I have to echo the tone-deafness of this. Held at a country club of all places," a third Facebook user stated. "You're literally holding an event to make rich people feel good about themselves and further stigmatize the experiences of people in poverty. It's not even a fund raiser? A food drive? Something that would give anything back to the people whose experiences you're pretending to care about?"

According to the Alliance for Human Services' website, the event is held throughout the year to educate school administrators, government officials, volunteers, and nonprofit staff on what it would be like to "walk in the shoes of neighbors" who have experienced poverty.

Participants are asked to "role-play the lives of low-income individuals." According to a spring 2022 article by the Lake County Journal, participants must choose "between buying groceries to feed their families or paying the mortgage" while they struggle to "find jobs, pay for gas and afford child care."

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