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KidPreneurs put creativity on display

While kids may say the darnedest things, some pretty big creative business ideas can come from those little people.

From beginning a home-cleaning service to a pet-walking business, creating relaxing bath products to baking yummy cinnamon buns, the business ideas from the students at J.J. O’Neill Catholic School in Napanee are never-ending.

For most of the day on Tuesday, the gym at J.J. O’Neill Catholic School in Napanee looked like a regular science fair, but it was so much more.

There were 120 students who created 90 to 100 projects that filled the gym.

Parents and the other grades were invited to tour the gym and learn about the new services and products these “kidpreneurs” came up with.

The KidPreneur Fair is a new pilot project initiated by the County of Lennox and Addington that encourages students in Grade 6 through 8 to come up with a product or service, while learning how to develop it into a marketable business.

For Jake Perry, a Grade 7 student, he took his love of camping and the outdoors and he came up with a simple and effective first aid tool: Pine Pitch Salve.

“I made it because I fell in the woods one day and I scraped my whole arm up and I wanted something that would help it heal real fast so I wasn’t in a lot of pain, but felt good and smelled good,” Perry explained. “[Something that] would also keep me undercover from the animals, so they wouldn’t see or smell me.”

He surveyed people who spend time outdoors and, with help from his uncle, researched different ingredients in nature that would help heal and protect, such as charcoal, beeswax and pine pitch.

From there, he mixed up his own blend, an all-natural way to heal bumps, bites and scrapes while out in the woods.

“I’m selling it for $5,” Perry said. “I think everybody needs it in their bag when they’re going on a camping trip. It’s got tons of uses — I don’t even know them all.”

He had samples for people to try out as part of his display and said that a few people had already bought some of his product.

According to the county’s website, “It is never too early for the kids of Lennox and Addington to become entrepreneurial, and we want to empower our youth to think this way and show them they have options as they grow. It is not necessarily about building a business today but providing the skills to tackle a limitless future.”

“Representatives came and presented to the Grade 5s through 8s in the gym and just showed how kids often have really great ideas,” Jillian Perreault, Grade 7/8 teacher and fair organizer, said. “They showed examples of kids who had really original and great ideas and how they managed to pursue them.”

This got her students excited.

“A lot of the kids were brimming with ideas after the assembly, and the assembly really drove home that they all have these really good ideas and you can actually do something with it,” Perreault said.

For Perreault, she saw this as a different way to engage her students outside the standard classroom lessons.

“I am super proud of them and amazed at the ideas that they have come up with and proud that they have this opportunity to shine,” Perreault said. “It’s a really nice way for some kids who don’t necessarily get to show all their talents in a classroom, a lot of our hands-on learners.”

The students worked individually or in groups of two and had to complete a number of steps, including market research and determining startup costs, for their business.

“It was looking into costs. What was the startup costs and what would be the cost to keep it running,” Perreault said. “That was an eye-opener for a lot of students, to realize that everything from the pencils you need to buy to take notes, any software you wanted to use to keep track of your stuff, your other forms on media to get information out. That was a nice learning opportunity.”

Some students saw a need with family and friends and created products to help them, like one student who created socks with pockets for heating pads for seniors with cold feet, or another who created a hockey wax for his team’s hockey sticks.

For fair presentation, it wasn’t as easy as putting a display board together.

“They had to break down the steps of the project that they had to go through, straight from the original idea to the marketing, to the building,” Perreault said. “We like to encourage the kids to show the mistakes they made along the way, to show the mistakes and how they learned from them. That’s often how businesses is.”

For Grade 8 students Emily Drouillard and Abby Haynes, they decided to use social media as a marketing tool for their A&E Body Care products.

“We thought it would be a good idea because lots of people have Instagram and we could get noticed and have people following us and giving us shout-outs,” Haynes said.

They determined that their market would be girls and women interested in all-natural products.

“Our market is ages four to 18 and moms,” Drouillard said. “We have bath balms to help them relax.”

“This is something that we both enjoy doing, and it’s going to help us in the future with jobs and learning expenses,” Haynes said. “If we want to make our own business in the future, we’re going to have to know this.”

Perreault can see this becoming an annual event, with students growing their ideas and businesses for more than the one year.

Along with J.J. O’Neill Catholic School, Selby Public School and Southview Public School each will be sending the top student projects to the main countywide fair at the Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives at the end of April.

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