From student Rachele Merliss’ perspective, when it comes to poverty, it permeates every part of a student’s life.
Written and performed by Merliss, “Inhale” is a piece that explores the circumstances surrounding a child in poverty and how parents in poverty often times have to make difficult and compromising decisions to provide the basic necessities for their children.
“So often [poverty] is treated as a choice, blamed upon the people who suffer from it,” Rachele Merliss said. “For children, especially, the odds are stacked against them.”
“Inhale” highlights the added responsibilities a child in poverty must face – it paints a picture of the grownup burdens that complicate a childhood and in turn take effect in the classroom. The viewer learns of a family desperate to escape their situation and while the answer seems simple, access to financial resources complicates matters.
“This piece makes you slow down and look closer,” Merliss said. “You won’t see the assumptions – you’ll see others – a child, a family – trying to make it in the world.”
Poverty: Not a Choice is a special Nebraska Loves Public Schools video series featuring the stories and talent of Nebraska Youth in Poetry. Directed by Patsy Koch Johns, performed by Nebraska students and inspired by true stories of students facing poverty in Nebraska, each segment in this series explores the day-to-day realities faced by public school kids who are living in poverty across the state.