A group of Heritage Christian Online School Students participated in a Shark Tank-style business event to help get their own ideas off the ground. -Photo contributed.

Entrepreneurial students care about alleviating poverty

Heritage Christian Online students have created original products to raise money at Dec. 1 sale

From colourful duct tape wallets to beautiful doll clothes or rustic cherry candle holders, Market Day at Piccadilly Mall on Dec. 1 will not only display original handmade products but also showcase local, entrepreneurial youth who care about alleviating poverty worldwide.

Market Day will compose of five groups of homeschooling students from Heritage Christian Online School ranging from grades 3-8 that have each created a business and made original products to sell to the community to raise awareness and funds.

This course, created to meet requirements in the Applied Design and Career subject areas of the new BC Curriculum, combined hands-on learning with deep, formative thinking about how to alleviate poverty.

Every dollar these students earn will go to Opportunity International, a worldwide charity that support entrepreneurs in Third World countries. If all their products are sold, the class hopes to donate over $1,000.

“These students have wrestled with issues of global poverty and how to ‘help without hurting’ through hand-ups not handouts,” states Sarah Zuidhof, teacher. “Many of them were moved deeply by the documentary Poverty Inc and encouraged their family and friends to watch the film so they could discuss it with them. I just love it when learning spills out into the community.”

For the past eight weeks the group has met every Thursday and each group had to create a name, logo, mission statement and product for their business. Then they had to complete market research and create a financial plan. A month ago each business had to stand before a “Shark Tank” – a group of four business people/ entrepreneurs in Salmon Arm and solicit a loan for their business. The “sharks” gave suggestions, expansion ideas and granted loans from $80 to $300 for each group.

“It can often be difficult for children to understand the larger issues faced in the world, but through this entrepreneurship course the boys have been able to understand poverty and take their own steps to help,” says Stephen Black, a father to two sons in the course. “By feeling the genuine pressure of developing a product and asking for a loan, the boys developed compassion for some of the obstacles that Third World entrepreneurs face everyday.”

A few of the businesses are even talking about continuing their businesses long after Market Day is over to raise money for their university education or to continue to donate to causes that they are passionate about.

Reece Friesen, a grade six student in the course and co-owner of N &R Ltd which made beautiful handmade wooden boxes, summed up his learning in the course by saying, “In our desire to help, through our feelings of compassion, we can turn it around and our helping becomes solely a feel good thing for us and actually quite hurtful to those receiving our help. We need to wise about how we help others.”

– Submitted by Heritage Christian Online School

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