Public Health Sudbury aims to teach empathy towards people living in poverty

Public Health Sudbury is going to show the average person what it's like to walk in the shoes of a person living in poverty.

The Greater Sudbury Poverty Challenge let people role-play a day in the life of the less fortunate

Poverty levels have crept up to 13 per cent of Sudbury population, Public Health Sudbury says.

Public Health Sudbury helped show the average person what it's like to walk in the shoes of a person living in poverty.

On Friday, it hosted the Greater Sudbury Poverty Challenge. 

The Poverty Challenge is an activity of Circles Sudbury, an initiative led by Public Health Sudbury and Districts in partnership with twelve other Greater Sudbury agencies. Together, they form the Partners to End Poverty Steering Committee.

The Poverty Challenge event was held at St. Albert Adult Learning Centre, a key partner on the steering committee.

Participants were given a role and a scenario of someone dealing with low-income, an approach that organizers hope teaches empathy for the 20,000 Sudburians living in poverty.

Dana Wilson, the health equity manager at Public Health Sudbury, said the demands on social systems are too high to ignore.

"The costs of poverty on health care, on the justice system, on education, this is a cost we can't afford not to address," Wilson said.

Dennis Raphael, a professor at the school of health policy and management at York University, said being poor means a higher risk of illness.

"If you're living in poverty as a child—  and that's 20 per cent of people in this area—  you're at a significantly higher risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes," he said.

"Even if as an adult you become middle class."

The event also included the launch of a new Circles Sudbury video, featuring the stories from participants connected with the Circles initiative. 

Circles Sudbury is a Public Health Sudbury initiative, offering friendship, coaching, and support to individuals and their families as they attempt to exit poverty.

Public Health said those living in poverty make up approximately 13 per cent of Sudbury's population.