Stratford, CT – April 11, 2017–  For most adults, the reality of managing expenses can be a challenge.  For high school students, this “reality” is not far away, but many have yet to experience what it will be like.  Sikorsky Credit Union works to help high school students preview what they will face in the future by sponsoring Financial Reality Fairs.  Students at Bunnell High School recently took a glimpse into their future by attending a Financial Reality Fair at their school on April 4.  On April 19, students at Stratford High School in Stratford will attend a Reality Fair event at their school.  Both events are sponsored by Sikorsky Credit Union, a financial institution that has taken a leadership role in promoting financial literacy to high school students.  This is the ninth year that Sikorsky Credit Union has held a Reality Fair for students in Stratford.
 
The Financial Reality Fair gives students the opportunity to experience “real-life” finances based on their chosen profession.  During the Reality Fair, students visit expense tables to spend their "hard earned money" on real-life choices, such as housing, transportation, food, and utilities.  They are tempted along the way with nonessential expenses including pet ownership, electronics, concert tickets and vacations.   Students also step up to spin the "Wheel of Reality," which increases or decreases their cash flow and simulates unexpected events and expenses that occur in day-to-day life.  After students visit all of the expense tables, they balance their budgets to see if they made the right choices to successfully live on their own.  Students then meet with volunteer financial counselors who show how well they managed their budget.  In the end, students walk away with an awareness of the financial challenges they will face and the experience of maintaining a lifestyle based on a budget. 

For Janette Cicale, a Sikorsky Credit Union employee who was a first time volunteer, this event had a big impact.  “This was my first time being involved and it is amazing to watch how students begin to recognize the importance of budgeting and saving.  I wish they had a fair like this when I was I high school.”  Diane Christiano, Coordinator of Career & Technology Education in Stratford added: “Every year I continue to be amazed how many high school students have no idea what their parents spend and what it takes to run a household.  For nine years now, Sikorsky Credit Union has partnered with us on the Reality Fair to help prepare students for this awakening as they transition from high school to college to the workforce.”  
 
In addition to the two high schools in Stratford, Sikorsky Credit Union recently held Reality Fairs at high schools in Ansonia and Oxford. Later this spring, Financial Reality Fairs are also planned at Henry Abbott Tech in Danbury and Seymour High School.