Game of Life seeks to teach students impact of decisions

Published 8:21 pm Friday, September 30, 2016

Whether you win $100 for becoming an expert skateboarder or spend $100 on a new entertainment system, the Game of Life brings a lot of realistic ups and downs for its players.

The Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg created a life-sized Game of Life in the gymnasium of Warren Central High School Wednesday to teach students about budgeting their money in the real world.

Each student was given a clipboard with a specific occupation, income and number of children. First students had to use their income to pay for a few necessities like water and gas bills, healthcare, taxes, insurance, housing and food.

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“They have to go around to all these tables and pay their bills basically,” said Erin Bennett, JA Game of Life project chair. “Based on what career they’re given, they have to make good choices in what type of housing they buy and what type of car they choose because they want (their account) to be in the positive when they finish the game.”

Booths were set up around the gym for students to write checks for transportation, phones, childcare, salon visits and more.

“They are learning check writing skills because they are having to pay each bill with a check,” Bennett said.

Students also had the option of putting some of their income into a savings account. Rebecca Antwine at the taxes table said she thought the students were getting a valuable lesson from the game.

“I think they are really learning how to understand the concept of getting a paycheck and that they have to pay taxes and they have to pay bills,” Antwine said. “I think this is a really good learning tool for these kids because I think they have a misconception about what they can do and what they can’t do when they grow up.”

Freshmen Zoey West and Jenifer Ainsworth said they did learn a great deal from the Game of Life.  “I thought I was going to be able to grow up and just buy all this stuff, and now I don’t know,” Ainsworth said.

“It makes me not want to grow up. It seems hard,” West said.

Chance cards were an option for those students tempted to draw one. An unanticipated payday or and unexpected bill could really alter the students’ savings.

“They’ll either get a reward — like winning the lottery or a pay raise— and they’ll get to add that to their income, or they might get a flat tire and they have to fix that,” Bennett said.

JA life member Jennifer Grey manned the chance booth for students brave enough to take a gamble.

“You can draw a card, and you can either earn money or you can lose money,” Grey said. “It’s like real life. You think you’re doing good, you’re saving some money and then bam.”

Students who ended the game with a balanced budget received a Payday candy bar for their efforts, while those who did not end up in the black were given a Zero candy bar.

“It’s all fun, and they all win,” Bennett said.

The junior auxiliary first did the project last year with over 400 students from Vicksburg High School, and Bennett said the project’s success was a driving force in bringing it back this year. Plus, she said JA works with young children often and it was a good change to work with older children.

“It went well so we’re expanding,” Bennett said. “We found that a lot of students did not know about budgeting or check writing. They gave us feedback that they enjoyed it.”

The JAs are bringing the project to Vicksburg High School Nov. 9 and Hinds CTE and River City Early College Oct. 21.