TEENS GET REALITY CHECK
16-year old Club member John B. was having a rough day. On his way to drop off his child, the single dad was pulled over, issued a DUI and ended up in jail. As a used car salesman with a monthly salary of only $2,100, John didn’t have the cash to post bail.
You’ll be relieved to know that these misfortunes didn’t actually befall John, but rather were the circumstances that he was assigned in “Reality Check,” a program sponsored by Wells Fargo, designed to teach teens the consequences of various life decisions. The daylong exercise, held recently at UCF for 150 of our Club members, began with assigning each teen a career, salary, and family configuration, and then required them to decide how to apportion their biweekly paychecks on necessities and luxury items. Occasionally, they were handed “fortunes” (similar to “Community Chest” in Monopoly) which could be either good (“You’ve won $1,000 in a radio contest”) or, as in John’s case, quite bad.
13-year-old Antonio drew a longer straw. He was assigned the job of airline mechanic and an annual salary of $57,300. For the most part, Antonio made responsible spending decisions—he opted for a 2 bedroom/1 bath house to save money, and then had enough left over to buy a second, investment property. In the wardrobe department, he eschewed the pricy $97 designer outfit for cheaper duds. “I shouldn’t have bought the Ford Mustang, though,” admitted Antonio. “I had no idea how much it costs to insure those things!”
Surely the lessons learned by the teen Club members will be music to their parents’ ears. Said John, “I understand now why my mom is always telling me to eat all my food and keep the AC at 78.” Diamond, who was assigned the job of hairstylist, said the exercise confirmed for her the necessity of staying in school. “I couldn’t believe how fast my paycheck disappeared, and all I bought were the necessities.”
“We’re so grateful to Wells Fargo for making Reality Check a reality for these kids,” said Program Director Anwar Hunt, who coordinated the day for BGCCF with Senior Service Director RaQuel Hinton. “You can lecture them all you want about making good decisions, but this program really puts them in the driver’s seat and makes them understand that choices have consequences.”