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Another dose of reality

Jack Brockley | Nov 28, 2017

Students take a spin at the "Wheel of Doom."

Photo by Chantelle Meyer

Oregon Kiwanians were on a hunt, a search for a service project that would impact children for a lifetime. They found it in the pages of Kiwanis magazine.

“When I read ‘Wheel of Fortune’ (April/May 2017), it struck me as a perfect fit,” says Florence Kiwanis Club President Jean Murphey. “I took magazines to our local school superintendents, and they immediately gave us their support.”

The story was about the Greencastle, Indiana, Kiwanis Club’s Reality Experience, which assigns middle school students careers and salaries before routing them through a course of financial decisions, such as buying or renting a residence and setting up a bank account.

The Greencastle club shared its game plan, which Florence Kiwanians adapted for their use.

“We named our project ‘Game of Life’ and added a station for pets—kids think they need a pet—and technology—now much is that cell phone, Internet and TV service,” Murphey says.

The schools gave full support to the event, which allowed the Kiwanians to schedule the game during school hours. And students were given extra credit for dressing for their professions.

“We had students in fatigues, scrubs and suits,” Murphey says.

That morning the Technology and Employment station leaders experienced family emergencies, leaving significant gaps in the reality experience.

“Our Key Club volunteers really stepped up and took over those stations,” Murphey reports. “With no preparation—and at one station no materials—you never would have know those Key Club kids hadn’t planned on running those stations.”

As in Indiana, school administrators were pleased with the results.

“Our students were very engaged and walked away with a new perspective about what it takes to be a positive, contributing member of society,” says Siuslaw Middle School Principal Andy Marohl.

Asked what advice she would give to other clubs considering a reality experience game, Murphey answered: “Do it! The Kiwanis club and students will both gain so much more than you’d think.”

And she lists three top tips:

  • Include school representatives in your committee.
  • Give your station volunteers freedom to do what they want with their handouts.
  • Communicate often.
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