What I Learned Covering Child Poverty in Massachusetts

When beginning this project, my focus was more broadly on child poverty in Massachusetts today, how it has maybe improved or gone up in recent years. In Massachusetts, there are still one in seven children living below the poverty line. After digging around online I stumbled across this initiative by the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless which I based my story around, A Bed For Every Child. This really struck me at first because I couldn’t even think of a time when I didn’t have a bed of my own. It was something so mundane and such a small part of my life that I never thought it would be an issue for some children and families out there.
Like Robyn Frost, Executive Director of the initiative, mentioned in my interview with her, it’s just like the water crisis in Africa. Here in the US we have water readily available to us almost anywhere and at any time of the day, clean and safe to drink. On the other hand, there are places that don’t even know what it’s like to have easy access to something that is necessary for human life and since this issue isn’t directly in front of our faces, it’s easy to not think about it. This made me reflect on my own childhood and wonder if any of my friends had experienced this. One story I was told that really struck me was about a student athlete who grew so tall he outgrew his bed, but his family couldn’t afford to get him one that suited his tall frame. So he went to school exhausted and couldn’t perform on his sports team as well as he wanted. After the initiative gave him a proper bed, he did a complete 180 in school and sports. This was a really powerful story for me because this kid couldn’t do anything about outgrowing his bed as it was just a natural part of life.
More research about the benefits of a good night’s sleep showed how kids who suffer from bad sleep tend to fall behind in school and can’t focus as well due to their fatigue. This is something that was difficult to process as poverty such an unfair circumstance that the children involved have no control over. To think that their education suffers through no fault of their own is nothing but sad. Sleep deprivation also impacts mood, making children feeling less motivated and happy. It’s hard to imagine that something as simple as a good night’s could have all these effects on one’s self and how you learn. I’m glad I came across this initiative because it definitely opened my eyes about the world around me and I hope that others will be more aware of the struggles people face.


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