By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
Kids on the Moapa Band of Paiutes Reservation got a lesson in real life on Saturday. They learned just how far money will — or will not — stretch in the real world.
The activity was part of the Johnson-O’Malley Youth Spending Frenzy, an activity that gives teens some hands on training on budgeting in the real world. Although local coordinators have participated in similar events held in Las Vegas, this was the first year that it was brought to the Moapa reservation.
The idea is to give kids a chance to manage a lump sum of money that represents a yearly salary. The kids are faced with cenarios that happen in real life to learn where all that money might go.
Clark County Indian Education Project Facilitator Della Frank needed several professional volunteers from the Moapa Valley community to make the event happen. She was seeking experts in various fields to present to the kids. So Frank turned to JustServe.org. She posted the event and explained her needs.
The response was overwhelming. With the help of JustServe specialist Larry Griffiths, Frank was able to get all the volunteers needed.
As kids arrived they met with Pam Duvall, manager of Washington Federal branch in Overton. Duvall taught youth how to write a check and budget their money. She presented each participant with $40,000 in mock money as their yearly salary.
Kids then set out to visit a variety of booths where they were taught where that money would go and why. They had to keep track of their spending habits and try to make it to the “end of the year” without going broke.
First, they had to have housing, so they visited “Teepee Realty” where they listened to real-life realtor Ray Bellavance explain about housing costs.
Transportation was also important. Jeff Jones, owner of Town and Country Auto in Overton, was there to help. Jones was operating under a different name “Rez Rides Auto” for the day where he gave lessons in how much car payments might take out of their annual salary.
The youth also learned about the cost of buying food. But they also learned that food spending can be flexible. Heidi Eikom, a nurse, taught the kids a lesson in healthy eating and dietetics while running the grocery store where kids could choose various food packages.
Another booth that kids could visit was “Dream Catcher College,” manned by Thelma Myers. Myers talked about the cost of tuition and the value of getting scholarships.
Larry Griffiths ran the IRS booth and gave kids an early lesson in paying taxes.
Laura Waters ran a shopping mall. The kids were required to make at least three purchases of clothing, cell phones, shoes, jewelry, and more.
Lane Perry ran the “Paint the Town Red” entertainment booth where kids learned the cost of entertainment.
There was even a savings and investment booth where kids had the opportunity to choose high-, medium-, or low-risk investments and then roll dice to see how their luck went.
One eye-opening booth was and attorney’s booth run by Kyle Waite. Kids were each given a scenario in which they might need an attorney, such as a DUI, speeding ticket, shoplifting, or bullying charge. Waite explained about attorney charges and court costs and how much legal cases could set them back financially, in addition to other penalties.
The Cradleboard Day Care booth, run by Nicolette Palmer taught the kids how much day care, diapers, bottles, and other child-related costs would run them in the event that they had a child.
While the older kids learned about budgeting, Mae Raiford worked with the elementary school kids in a Math Mania activity. Kids were given $400 in Monopoly money and then asked to build a tower out of dry spaghetti and marshmallows. They had to use their money to buy the supplies, learning spending lessons as they went.
Frank said the event turned out to be a great success. She was quick to give credit for the day to all the volunteers. “At the end of the day, the debriefing was phenomenal,” Frank said. “We sat the kids down and the volunteers shared personal life difficulties and mistakes they had made money-wise with the kids in the hopes that we could teach the kids to avoid the same pitfalls.”