Students get introduction to 'the real world' at Nazareth event

Participants in Tuesday's Real World event gather information during the afternoon's simulation...
Participants in Tuesday's Real World event gather information during the afternoon's simulation exercise.
Updated: Aug. 23, 2018 at 7:52 AM EDT
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SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - From Nazareth Child & Family Connection: Almost 100 young people got a taste of the real world Tuesday and at the end of the day they were better prepared for life.

The youth participated in The Real World-Life In Action, an event designed to teach life skills and to motivate them to think about real life situations such as housing, transportation, utilities, furniture, nutrition, student loans, insurance and childcare, all things they will face as adults.

The day-long event, held at the East Rowan YMCA, was presented through a partnership between Nazareth Child & Family Connection and eight departments of social services from the area, including the counties of Rowan, Cabarrus, Davidson, Mecklenburg, Union, Randolph, Davie and Lee.

Irene Sanders, Executive Director of Student Leadership Johns Creek, from Johns Creek, Georgia, attended to observe the Real-World event in preparation of holding a Real-World event in her area this fall.

All the youth who participated were involved with one of the departments of social services in some manner, whether in group residential or foster home placement. Some of the older participants are involved with DSS through a Voluntary Placement Agreement.

The goal was to address education and employment decisions made in combination with lifestyle choices … housing, transportation, recreation, and health, among others, to help them as they age out into the real world.

"The goal was a real-world simulation," said Rhonda Cannady, case manager for Nazareth Child & Family Connection. "The kids had morning workshops and then participated in the simulation in the afternoon. They had to be able to budget needs and necessities for the month on a fixed income, according to their chosen career path, education and salary. They had to make sure they had housing, some sort of transportation, utilities, food, and insurance for the family. They had to decide what they could afford."

Each participant was given different life situation to factor in so they would be prepared for unexpected life events.

Participants, ages 13 to 18, received a career and salary based on their projected education and skill set and had to set up a budget based on that salary.

There were 25 stations with information on costs of services and necessities. Once information was gathered, the participants had to decide what was necessary and what they could afford on the budget they were given.

"They got a real hands-on look at budgeting and they quickly realized that there were some things they had to give up in order to make it work or survive," said Cannady. "They soon realized they may not start off with a new car, that there were other options. Some decided on a moped or that they couldn't even afford transportation, which meant that they would have to use public transportation or depend on someone else. Some decided, based on their educational desire level and income that they would have to have a roommate to survive in the real world and that eating out was not going to be their best option.

"It was an eye-opener for sure.  I heard a lot of the kids say that they really appreciated it. They never knew it would be this hard when they transitioned out. Hopefully, they can use this as a catalyst when preparing for their independence in the real world and not transition out of care without some sort of realistic plan."

Several local businesses and governmental agencies helped with the day-long event including Officer M.L. Dishman of the Salisbury Police Department, Lisa Clevinger of South State Bank in Rockwell, Nicholas Means of F&M Bank, Shelly Morgan with Aflac, Cloninger Ford, Lakewood Apartments, Subway, Granite Quarry, and Chick Fil-A, Salisbury, and Allen and Ballard Insurance Associates, Kannapolis.

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