February 21, 2023
by Alexa Sanwo
People all over the world endure the struggles of not having enough. In 2018, there were 38.1 million people living in poverty in the United States alone. Poverty, of course, is terrible. People don’t get to choose whether they are born into a situation with or without money. The family financial situation a person is born into can have a dominating effect on their entire lives.
A study was done that looked at the association between poverty, childhood stress, and parental stress. What was found is that stress in poverty is a cycle that continues on throughout generations. People that grew up in poverty were more likely to live in poverty during their adult life. When a child experienced stress because of poverty, they were more likely to become a parent that experienced new stresses due to poverty. Not only does poverty affect a person’s life, but the lives of generations to come.
Hope for changing one’s circumstances comes from having a transitional character: a person that can break the cycle and change the course for their lineage. The government spends billions of dollars with the intention to help the nation’s impoverished. Numerous studies have been conducted to determine methods of escaping economic hardship. However, the power that one individual has to make changes and rise out of poverty has the most potential to affect generations.
Graduating High School
Becoming a transitional character can begin in childhood with prioritizing graduating high school. This can be challenging because children living in poverty are generally less successful than other students. Of course, this isn’t to say that these children are destined to fail. They can succeed by overcoming the additional obstacles that poverty adds to their education.
An inner-city teacher in Phoenix, Arizona had many of these economically struggling students in her class. She recalls how many of the students that came from families in poverty didn’t have the support at home that other children had. They were on their own to learn. The challenge came from getting these young students to have the desire to take charge of their learning (Anonymous, personal communication, October 30, 2019).
To be a transitional character though, it is vital for these young children to take charge of their learning. Graduating high school holds great importance when escaping poverty. Parental support is ideal, but when not available, studies show that having a network of role model adults that support and inspire can aid with academic success. Students living in poverty can look to caring teachers, a friend’s parents, and family members. Similarly, anyone can help children in poverty by being an adult support and role model.
Utilizing Social Services
Being a transitional character isn’t limited to childhood. Adults too have the opportunity to change the course for their lineage by escaping poverty. One method of doing so is by utilizing social services.
A study confirmed the importance of doing so when it was found that government transfer payments did not help families break their poverty cycle. Rather, providing public services did. To escape poverty, families need to take advantage of these public services such as obtaining medical insurance and accessing health services.
An amazing resource in Phoenix, Arizona is Elaine: a health navigation and transportation service for the homeless. Elaine’s clients, the homeless, make appointments with drivers for free rides to medical appointments, job interviews, jobs, parenting classes, bank interviews, housing interviews, and so much more.
The Bishop’s storehouse, while funded through donations made by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, can be accessed by anyone. A meeting with a local bishop can open up a resource for those in poverty to access food, hygiene products, and household cleaning supplies.
Solving poverty might seem synonymous with the daunting task of solving world hunger. Breaking out of a poverty cycle comes with serious hurdles, but graduating from high school and utilizing social services as needed are two of the many tools available to confront these challenges. By breaking the cycle, a person will change the course for their lineage.
Alexa is a senior at Brigham Young University – Idaho and will graduate in April 2023 with a Bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies. She enjoys exploring Utah, traveling, working on her house, reading, and being a wife and mother. With her degree, Alexa plans on working to strengthen families, which are the foundational units of society.