By Diana Hart
Leave it to a Canadian student to find yet another way to use hockey laces.
Levi Rock, a 15 – year old LaSalle, Ontario high school student, has turned his love of hockey into a small business called Wicked Wristers, selling his custom made hockey lace bracelets to two local stores.
Youthrive is an intensive 10-week mentoring and financial literacy education program focused on entrepreneurship. This year, the program reached 36 high school and grade seven classrooms in Windsor/Essex area, as well as students at a summer camp for at-risk youth. Students create and run their own businesses with the help of mentors microloans and courses on topics such as marketing and budgeting.
The University of Windsor students were named the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge National Champion because of their Youthrive Program. The Youth Empowerment Challenge, created by student entrepreneurship group Enactus Canada, is a competition for college and university students. During the competition, teams from across Canada run projects focused on helping young people in the community.
Enactus Windsor students are hoping Youthrive helps inspire a future generation of entrepreneurs by meeting a need for more engaging financial literacy education in schools.
“We realized that in our school systems, students are exposed to financial literacy in a theoretical aspect and for the most part, aren’t introduced to entrepreneurship at all,” says Giancarlo Iannicello, Enactus team member and fourth year business student. “With Youthrive, rather than telling a student, ‘this is how you save’ or ‘this is how you should budget your money’, we are actually giving them money and showing them how this applies to the real world.”
One of Youthrive’s top sellers, Levi’s bracelet business has earned almost $2,200 in profits. He’s expanded his business into t-shirts and lanyards and plans to keep his small business going, thanks to his mentors at Youthrive.
“Youthrive has meant a lot to me because it opened my eyes to how much fun and how much work having a business is,” said Levi. “I’ve always loved entrepreneurship and business since I was little selling strawberries in the front yard. The mentors that worked with us from the University of Windsor were professional, passionate, and truly cared about the students in this program and our projects. I think that Youthrive has jump-started my business knowledge.”
Giancarlo was excited to return to Youthrive as a mentor after taking part in the program in high school himself. He says out of the 265 youth-created projects undertaken this year, his personal favourite was one that he advised on, in which a student created a line of aprons using upcycled clothing.
“She had a passion for art and had been told that she couldn’t turn that into a feasible career,” said Giancarlo. “Showing her that she could take her passion and turn it into a means of income and an actual career was very meaningful for me.”
Since 2016, more than 5,000 students have taken part in the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge, who have created over 300 community empowerment projects, helping more than 26,500 young people.
“Young people are our future leaders; it is inspiring to see what kind of leaders they will become by looking at the engaging, compassionate and creative work done by the participants of the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge,” said Terri Williams, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Scotiabank. “The Enactus teams are making a real difference in the lives of young people in communities across Canada.”
Learn more about the Enactus competition at www.enactus.ca.