Neighborhood tours give students insight into wealth, poverty in Gulfport

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Some Gulfport High students are learning why some neighborhoods are considered "upscale," while others are "low income." On Monday, they hit the road to get a different perspective of life in ten well-known Gulfport neighborhoods.

"It's for us to actually see these parts of Gulfport we've never seen," announced their teacher Hardy Thames.

They boarded a bus for a two-hour tour of their own city. Their classmates served as tour guides.

"So now we're entering Bayou Oaks. It's located in a really good place in Gulfport," one student stated.

The AP Economics students at Gulfport High have been randomly assigned a particular neighborhood to research.

"I teach leaders and they need to be aware of where they live and the problems that are right under their noses," said Thames.

The problem they tackled was poverty. The students interviewed the people who live in each neighborhood, as well as police officers, community leaders, city officials, even children. They visited places like Gaston Point, Broadmoor, Bayou View, and areas around the Jeff Davis campus of MGCCC.

"On your right, you're going to see the community center. On your left, you're going to see a trailer park," a young man explained.

Gulfport High Senior Austin Watts studied College Park.

"It's an eye-opener, because half the bus had never even been in that area before. It's familiar to me. I think people realize what other people have or don't have more," said Austin.

Senior Jada Oliver focused on North Gulfport.

"It's not necessarily a poor neighborhood. Most of the people that live there, they've been there all their lives and they like it there," said Jada.

The economic tour gave the students a social snapshot of each neighborhood so they can understand what poverty looks like, what causes it, and how people in power can help fix it.

"Poverty is a huge problem and deserves their attention, and they're the ones who'll be in a position to do something about it," said Thames. "What I'm seeing from a lot of them is they care about this problem."

"It's educational for everyone, because you really don't know what goes on in your community. You don't know the people that live in poverty," said Jada.

Halfway through the tour, the students stopped at Gulfport City Hall. They interviewed Mayor George Schloegel about what city officials can do to alleviate the negative effects of poverty.

"I'm trying to give them the tools that enable them to talk about uncomfortable topics, and these are really difficult topics," said Thames.

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