Students in the Williams Lake area have a unique opportunity to learn about banking, business and budgets thanks to volunteers with Junior Achievement who visit their classrooms.
Williams Lake Scotiabank branch manager Paul Eves spearheaded the project in Williams Lake several years ago in elementary and high schools and was one of the featured speakers at the Chamber of Commerce last week.
At the Chamber lunch Eves talked about a Junior Achievement business program he has taught in Marketing 12 class at Columneetza, which has garnered national and international attention.
“The kids come up with a something they want to produce and a marketing plan. They deal with the proceeds, organize board meetings and elect officers. Basically, they start their own company,” he said.
“Last year we produced ‘Paws It’ bracelets with expressions and sayings on them. They sold them and raised about $2,500 for the SPCA.
“This year we did Sol Vitra sunglasses with the Grade 12 marketing class, raising about $3,600 for Youth for Christ. The JA program suggests that 50 per cent of earnings to go a charity, but we chose to give it all back to the community.”
He said that other volunteers from the banking community get involved with the projects, including places like the Royal Bank and the Bank of Montreal.
Thanks to the efforts of local volunteers like Eves, Williams Lake is on the map – receiving national and international JA attention for the Marketing 12 project.
They also received recognition from the Ministry of Education for innovative, hands-on learning.
“There are so many people who, as adults have no idea what finance, business and budget mean,” he continued. “If you can teach the basics to kids, it’s so much better.”
He said that the first JA program in Williams Lake was for the Grade 10 planning classes in both public high schools. “It’s about the economics of staying in school, it talks about what success looks like for you, about dreaming and about what’s important to you.
“You get kids to think about whether they might want to work with people or with numbers; about their strengths and interests,” he added. “It moves into building a resume and marketing themselves and leads into budgeting.”
In three years he has done 15 programs in local schools, and other JA volunteers have done about 20 of them.
He’s also worked with Grade 6 and 7 students at Kwaleen Elementary, teaching them two different programs, ‘Dollars and Sense’ and ‘Our Business World.’
“Grade 6 and 7 kids are not too young to talk about money and business. These kids have a great deal of interest and they ask the best questions. They come up with excellent ideas for what kind of business they’d like to start, what they’d like to produce, how they’d market it – they even had to act out a commercial – they were awesome,” he explained.
“They had a good understanding of market competition. We did an assembly line to discover whether that might be more efficient than individual assembly. They got it. Two months later we did the ‘Dollars and Sense’ program, and the groundwork was already laid. It’s something new and different: it stands out for kids and it’s important to them.
“It talks about what money is. So many kids have no idea the value of a dollar. The session is all about the small business world: everything from ownership to production and marketing.”
He stated that this is a great way to teach kids to be part of their community, to nurture strong values that are important to kids and to all of us, calling it “hands-on classroom learning.”
People were turned away last year because of a lack of volunteers to do the programs, according to Eves.
“We need volunteers. All you need to volunteer with JA is a desire to give back and to get kids involved. You don’t have to be a banker or a business owner: you just have to do it. The JA course material is very complete and easy to use,” he said. “It’s all done for you, and it’s only a two-hour commitment per week.”
For more information about JA, including how you can get involved, contact Paul Eves by stopping by Scotiabank or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com