IU volunteers help kids think about the future at the Reality Health Fair
Kids at the 10th Annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Indiana Reality Health Fair on Feb. 27 got a reality check -- and free vision and hearing screenings from IU Health.
The fair, with co-sponsor Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males, offered kids ages 8 to 15 a dose of reality as they chose an occupation, marital status and number of children.
Once they settled on a lifestyle and calculated their annual income, each child, accompanied by a mentor or parent, moved from table to table with balloons representing their children and a checkbook in hand to face common financial and lifestyle expenses.
Throughout the event, the Indiana University School of Optometry and IU Department of Speech and Hearing provided vision and hearing screenings for participants, and lessons in healthy relationships curriculum were provided by IU Health Bloomington.
Volunteers stationed throughout the room discussed options with participants and provided information about things to look for when paying bills and balancing a checkbook.
"The goal was to successfully balance monthly expenses with monthly income," said Deborah Meader, director of site-based programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Indiana.
Among the stations were posts for housing and utilities, food and clothing, health and nutrition, banking and legal, and travel and leisure.
"Kids had to decide if they can afford that fancy car they just bought and a new condo. Not to mention winter clothing, that unexpected doctor's bill, or any other number of expenses," she said.
Tom Saccone, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Indiana, said kids might say, "Let's buy a boat" -- then suddenly realize they don't have money to pay rent.
"This is something I would have liked to have done when I was a kid," he said.
Saccone said the main goal of the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better.
"This will help [the kids] make better choices, and to see the implications of those choices in the game of life. That's what this is, it's a game of life," he said.