LAWRENCE – Faculty and staff from the University of Kansas will educate students in a new context next week. They will be among the volunteers at Reality U, a program designed to give teens a crash course in the demands of adult life. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 1, and Thursday, Oct. 2, at Free State High School.
Reality U provides teens a look at their potential lifestyles at the age of 26, based on their answers to a previously completed survey and their current GPA. Students are assigned a pretend job and a matching income to spend at 14 “life stations” such as housing, transportation, child care, banking and groceries. The students are challenged to balance their budget, in some instances with very meager earnings.
The program, organized by Communities in Schools and the Douglas County United Way, needs many volunteers to operate. Volunteers work at each station providing prepared program information to each student as they make purchasing decisions.
Professor Jennifer Hamer, chair of the Department of American Studies, will participate this year. She came across the opportunity after contacting United Way for community engagement activities for her daughter’s book club.
“In the process, I was told of Reality U and my partner, Clarence Lang (associate professor in African and African-American Studies), and I were invited to participate,” Hamer said.
“United Way, from my understanding, was attempting to offer students a diverse group of individuals who could contribute to student learning because the students themselves are quite diverse, in terms of race, ethnicity, class and other variables. In the tradition of black studies and American studies we tend to link, as best we can, our scholarship with community engagement. Overall, we have a responsibility to contribute to the development of youth and do our part to create a place that supports the potential of all.”
KU employees who would be interested are encouraged to sign up for shifts on either day. Training and all information and supplies will be provided.