Interactive exhibit teaches children about global poverty

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WILDWOOD, MO (KTVI) - Call it a worldwide lesson on wheels. Local children are touring the world without ever leaving town. Using an iPod and a headset, they are setting foot inside homes in developing countries.

The Compassion Experience exhibit is designed to give visitors an understanding of what daily life is like for children who are impoverished.

The exhibit has been touring the U.S. through Compassion International, a child-advocacy ministry. The organization is working with churches throughout the United States, including the Living Word United Methodist Church in Wildwood.

The Compassion Experience is set in a 1,700 square-foot space outside the church’s parking lot.

“Oh my goodness, it started off as a tractor trailer that pulled in here Wednesday. And then we had a team of volunteers,” said Kelly Vincent, Living Word UMC.

Visitors enter the indoor space and choose to take a journey through one or both countries, Ethiopia and the Dominican Republic. Through a self-guided tour, they hear a child describe what it is like living in need. In both cases, the children overcome poverty through education and sponsorship through the ministry.

Organizers are hopeful some visitors will become child sponsors with Compassion International. However, they said the main objective is to open people’s eyes.

“If it’s just changing the way you think about other countries or the way you think about living here, or just feeling blessed for what you have, that’s good,” said Chelsea Voal, The Compassion Experience exhibit.

Shawn Robinson, 13, said the exhibit humbled him.

“It makes me feel like sometimes I turn things into granite, instead of actually realizing that most other people in the world don’t actually have these amazing things that we have here,” he said.

The Compassion Experience exhibit will be in town through Monday, March 20 at Living Word United Methodist Church at 17315 Manchester Road in Wildwood. Reservations are not required but are suggested.