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Teens Face Reality at the Practical Matters Fair

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Sixteen-year-old Tamisha entered a room at Georgia Tech this summer and instantly became a divorced fashion designer with three kids. Her income included child support, and she had to visit different booths around the room at the reality fair to take care of her family — without running out of money.

This simulation was the main activity at the second annual Practical Matters Reality Fair on July 27. About 100 participants got to visit different booths to use their made-up salaries and see if they could take care of business. The booths included a grocery store, utilities and service, day care, housing, car dealership, furniture store, shopping mall, entertainment center, and an out-of-money station where you have to do an “odd job” to gain money.

The fair was designed to show teens how the transition to adulthood will look like outside of school. This simulation gives participants a job at random, a monthly salary, a number of kids and a marital status. “The purpose of it is for teenagers [who] are about to transition out of foster care to have a clear understanding of what life is like in the real world,” said Jershaun Roberts, the coordinator of the fair who works at Creative Community Services, Inc., a nonprofit therapeutic foster care agency. 

This was Tamisha’s second year participating in the simulation. This time around, she managed to visit every necessary booth and still have money left, unlike like last time when she ran out of money.  

However, this was Angel’s first time going through the simulation. The 16-year-old wasn’t as lucky and only had a little more than $50 left to spend at the furniture store.

“Our hopes are that we catch them [kind of] early enough that they [teenagers] have a couple of years of coming back,” said Roberts. Since this was Angel’s first time she was not accustomed to it yet, but if she does it again next year it’s likely she’ll learn from her experience. Both Angel and Tamisha said they got a better understanding of the value of money through this simulation.

Dasia is a 17-year-old girl who likes to watch sports.

Video produced by Mikael Trench, 18, is a freshman at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and aspiring filmmaker.

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