Reality U

Eighth grade students in Larned, Hoisington, Ellinwood, Otis-Bison, Central Plains, and Pawnee Heights will soon be learning the realities of adulthood with Reality U. United Way of Central Kansas is once again bringing Reality U to 200 8th grade students in Central Kansas. This year’s event will hosted by Larned Middle School and will bring together students from across Barton & Pawnee Counties to learn about how the choices that they make in high school will impact their futures.

Reality U is an interactive exercise that starts with the students taking a short survey about what they want to be when they grow up, their GPA, how they anticipate handling debt, and if they think they will be married or single. The program then generates a monthly income and the students have to pay bills. On January 16th, booths will be set up in the Larned Middle School gym and all 200 students will need to make sure they have somewhere to live, a means of transportation, vehicle & medical insurance, and adequate childcare for their kids. Every purchase they make will lower the amount in their checkbook register and if they run out of money before they make all their purchases, they will have to make adjustments to how they are spending their money.  This interactive exercise demonstrates to the students how expensive life is and how important it is for them to do well in school, as that will have a major impact on the likelihood of their future success. Another lesson many of the students walk away from this exercise realizing, is just how much their parents do for them and how hard they have to work to provide for their family.

After the Reality U exercise, UWCK has breakout sessions planned to go in depth on some important subjects including “The Cost of Delinquency”, “Money Matters”, “The Reality After High School” and “The Reality of High School”. During these sessions, local community members will be speaking to the students in more detail about the choices they make now and the choices that will be available to them in the future. Bank of the West and Taylor Abstract & Title Co will be presenting to the students about finances, including checking and savings, credit cards, and student loans. Juvenile Services will be working with the students about the repercussions of crime as a teenager, Tyson & Chelsea Steffen and Alex Filbert and Brian Carlton will speak to the students about what life if really like after college and how their choices led them to where they are now, and high school students will speak to the 8th graders about how the choices they make throughout high school will impact their plans for college and beyond.

This program is possible thanks to the amazing support of the sponsors of this program, who see the need for this type of education for our students. Sponsors for this event include: Sunflower Bank, Bank of the West, Credit Union of America, First State Bank, Taylor Abstract & Title Co, Farmers Bank & Trust, Pawnee Valley Community Hospital, American State Bank, and Chromotize.