Oct. 15, 2007 – Recent data from the National Center for Children in Poverty show that 39 percent of children in Utah live in low-income families, defined as income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. According to such research, families need an income of about twice the federal poverty level to meet their most basic needs.
Jennifer Bauman, associate professor of undergraduate studies at the University of Utah, witnessed this hardship in person while volunteering at the Neighborhood House, a low-income daycare facility located on Salt Lake City’s west side, and has been fighting to improve the statistics ever since.
Part of her efforts includes a week-long child poverty awareness event on the University of Utah campus. The second annual event will run Oct. 20-24. Sponsored by the Learning, Engagement, Achievement and Progress (LEAP) program, the week will offer a series of activities aimed at not only raising awareness of child poverty, but at finding solutions to the problem. All events are free and open to the public.
“Child poverty is a reality in Utah, and sadly, a common one,” says Bauman. “Many children live on one meal a day. What is sad is that their needs and deficiencies are in all areas, not just food clothing and shelter, but in skills, time with their parents, education, as well as goals and dreams.”
Bauman has dedicated herself to the cause, working with the LEAP program and the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU) to organize the week of events that she hopes will have results for Utah’s young and poor. “I always think that one day maybe one of the children saved or helped will be the one who ends up saving one of our lives, you just never know. Every life is so precious and that is why it is so important,” she says.
On Tuesday, Oct. 21, purchasing a cup of hot chocolate outside the Olpin Union can change a child’s life with all donations benefiting the Neighborhood House. Parting with spare change at various stations across campus will also help to buy the children items on a wish list.
Thursday, Oct. 23 a food drive will be held to collect items such as formula, diapers, hygiene items, food and clothing. Collection bins will be placed in the Olpin Union and throughout campus.
Friday, Oct. 24, children from Neighborhood House will visit campus as special guests, participating in a variety of activities. Students from Newsbreak will film the children and write a story on their activities for their upcoming newscast.
All week the university community is invited to write a solution for child poverty on one of the paper flowers that will be passed out. Participants will plant their flowers on one of the grassy free speech areas decorated for the week between the Olpin Union and Orson Spencer Hall (OSH).