PIKEVILLE — The Pike County Cooperative Extension Office held a reality store for Pikeville Independent eight-grade students last week.
The reality store is a life skills simulation, preparing students for employable and successful futures.
The Sapling Center Program Facilitator Amber Collins, participated in the event and talked with students in hopes that if they need an extra push or help they could stop by The Sapling Center, located at 404 S. Mayo Trail, Pikeville, to get assistance with resumes and interview building skills.
"The reality store is basically its meaning, it is a reality check for the students since they are going to be transitioning into high school soon," she said. "They need to see what it is like to help them prepare for their future."
Collins said when they're in high school they're going to be thinking about what they are going to major in when they go to college and thinking about picking an occupation.
"It is an eye-opener to show them how much money they are going to have to make to survive," she said. "They get to have a job, but their job is picked based on their current GPA. How hard you work in school, can determine what kind of job you're able to get."
Collins said she came to the reality store in eighth grade and remembers it vividly.
"I remember Mrs. Froman and this program and I thought it was the coolest thing. I heard my parents talking about bills they had to pay and when my mom would go to the store she would look for the best deals," she said. "I remember walking up to the grocery store section during the reality store where they asked if you wanted to buy name brand or generic food items."
Collins knew she wanted to buy the name brand food items.
"I realized very quickly that I didn't have enough money to pay for health insurance, so I had to end up buying the generic food brands. It was a reality check for me," she said. "The day we were here, really put into perspective what my mom and dad had to deal with on a daily basis."
The reality store helps the students think of the necessities and priorities, over things they don't necessarily need.
"I hope they keep this in the back of their mind when they're going into college and deciding on a major. I hope this even pushes them to go to college," Collins said. "Showing and teaching the students that getting a college degree is important to be able to support your family, because in today's world the majority of jobs require a college degree or certain certifications."
The students participated in paying for transportation, housing, property taxes, insurance, utilities, clothing, child care, groceries, entertainment, furniture, medical and dental care, and much more.
The Sapling Center also provides counseling, peer support and community support services for youth ages 14-25. It is an opportunity for students to seek guidance and motivation.
4H Extension Agent Novella Froman said, "I hope the students see the correlation with their grade point average and quality of life. This gives them a simulation of real life and how much things actually cost. It lets them see real life and what it is like to make a living."