By, Danielle Gagnon
BOSTON — It’s an age-old problem for parents: how to get their children to do chores and practice good hygiene habits.
But thanks to a new product called The Creature Teachers, this problem could be a thing of the past. The Creature Teachers are programmable stuffed animals that remind children to brush their teeth, wash the dishes and do their homework.
But the Creature Teachers aren’t the “latest product sold in toy stores everywhere.” They are the creation of three students who developed the plan for their dream business last month, during a Social Entrepreneurship Camp at the British International School of Boston (BISB).
The camp was organized and led by One Hen, Inc., a Boston-based nonprofit whose mission is to empower kids to become social entrepreneurs who make a difference in the world. The organization equips educators around the world with resources that help guide children in developing personal initiative, financial literacy, global awareness and philanthropic commitment.
“Our camp helps kids use their skills and passions to develop small businesses and raise money to support social causes they care about. After a week of planning their businesses, interacting with entrepreneur guest speakers, and visiting local companies and charities, kids feel inspired and empowered to help those in their communities and world,” said Jessica Charles, One Hen’s Program Manager.
For example, one day the 13 campers visited The Haley House Bakery, where they had a chance to meet the organization’s managers and staff. During this visit, the children learned how Haley House helps homeless people by providing healthy, organic, affordable food to its patrons and employment opportunities and on-the-job training for those seeking to become financially independent.
The campers also learned from some of Boston’s young entrepreneurs, who visited the camp to share their stories of developing and founding businesses. Among those entrepreneurs was Daniel Rechel, founder and president of the local fashion company The Definition of Nyce (D.O.N.). The kids were amused to learn that D.O.N. creates clothing branded with positive messages, such as “I Smile at Strangers” and “Keep Love Alive.” Daniel also told the campers that The D.O.N. donates 100 percent of its profits to local youth charities and organizations and works with young people in the community to design and promote its clothing.
“Kids get to check out the entrepreneurs’ products and marketing materials and ask them questions about how they got started and the challenges they’ve faced along the way. Each guest shows them a new side of entrepreneurship, and many times, these visits energize kids towards pursuing their own business and charity projects,” said Charles.
In addition to meeting entrepreneurs and developing their own business plans, campers also develop plans for how they can use their businesses to help their communities. At the BISB camp, kids decided to use their business profits to support a variety of causes including rainforest protection, animal rights, and breast cancer research.
The students also developed business and financial plans for their companies by itemizing their costs, estimating their revenue and then calculating their expected profits. Using a locally-developed app called 30Hands, they even created advertisements for their products and presented these ads on the final day of the camp.
By the last day of camp, the 13 BISB campers had met seven entrepreneurs and visited two organizations. Each camper had also developed a business idea, marketing strategy, a philanthropy project and a new sense of confidence and empowerment to guide their entrepreneurial spirits.
One Hen hopes to reach more children through the camp this summer. Visit www.onehen.org/camp to learn more.
Danielle Gagnon is the communications manager for the British International School of Boston in Jamaica Plain. She joined BISB in September 2013 and previously worked as a newspaper reporter in New Hampshire. She is passionate about international education and works to spread the message about its benefits throughout the Boston area through her work at the British International School of Boston.