Drumnacarra NS in Causeway and Kilcummin NS are amongst competition winners
OVER 9,000 children nationwide have launched start-up businesses this year while still in primary school thanks to the Junior Entrepreneur Programme (JEP), and two Kerry schools are a big part of that.
Drumnacarra National School, Causeway, received the Top Teams Award in the annual competition for their classroom business ‘Little Shop of Stitches’, while Sadhbh O’Halloran from Kilcummin National School also did her bit to put Kerry on the map by winning the Bright Spark Award for her Pebble Art business idea.
Pupils from almost 300 schools nationwide took part in the 12th year of the programme and experienced what it is like to be a start-up entrepreneur, doing market research and agonising over the final business plan before investing their own cash and putting their business in motion. The pupils combined their creativity with the skills they developed to launch products and businesses, ranging from board games and storybooks to high-end craft and educational products.
For Drumnacarra NS, the achievement is all the more impressive considering they were one of the smallest class groups on the programme this year. There were just nine pupils, ranging from third class to sixth partaking. The class was guided through every step of the process by teacher Regina O’Connor. They also teamed up with local craft-skills teacher and dressmaker, Trish Riordan, who taught the children machine and hand-sewing skills and even loaned sewing machines to complete the eye-catching products.
“We had been doing sewing classes with Trish for a few years, and the students really enjoyed it and because they enjoyed it so much, we decided to go with the idea of the Little Shop of Stitches,” Regina explained. “Trish would bring in her sewing machine and the kids would hand sew or use the machine to make the items. There probably was more work involved with there only being nine students, but it also had its benefits, everyone had to get involved in all of the different teams,” she added.
The Little Shop of Stitches produced a range of eye-catching cards and gifts, including scented heart-shaped pouches, Valentine’s cards, Mother’s Day cards and key rings, all hand-made by the children using only recycled materials.
The class sold its creations at a school showcase day and approached three local outlets – Hanly’s, The Forge Café and Flynn’s Shop – which all stocked the products.
The pupils made a profit of almost €400 and very generously donated 25 per cent of this profit to the Causeway Community Playground project.
Meanwhile, Sadhbh O’Halloran from Kilcummin National School creates beautiful, original pieces of art using pebbles and other natural materials for her Pebble Art business. She gives her unique pieces as gifts to family and friends for special occasions and won the Bright Spark Award for her efforts – a recognition of the creativity of individual pupils who pitch novel ideas at the idea-generation stage of JEP.
Kilcummin NS principal Jillian Sheehan was proud of her students’ efforts in this year’s JEP: “One of the things I noticed was it was very apparent that the children were well articulated and confident in presenting their ideas, they took it very seriously,” she said.
“The project this year was something that the students all really enjoyed, Sadhbh came up with this brilliant idea, it was an idea that was very popular amongst the students, it wasn’t too time consuming and they were all flying it throughout the process,” she added.