More than half of the students at École élémentaire catholique Saint-Jean-Baptiste (EECSJB) participated in an event on June 15, where they got to be an entrepreneur for a day, selling products of their choice to the community.

The event, called Journée des Petits entrepreneurs du CSDCEO, aims to encourage children between the ages of five and 12 to learn about and experience entrepreneurship.

Between participating schools EECSJB, École élémentaire catholique Embrun and École élémentaire catholique Saint-Victor, 337 children were part of the event. Out of 250 children at EECSJB, 169 students opted to open up their own business for a day, either alone, or in a team of two.

“We asked all of our students to get creative, innovative and become an entrepreneur for a day,” Gaby Myre, the school’s principal, said. She explained that creativity was important, as they didn’t want half of the students selling lemonade, for example.

Students sold items such as baked goods, candies, jewelry, bath products, candle holders and even dog treats. EECSJB had 120 colourful kiosks set up, each one customized to suit the children’s business.

EECSJB held three half-days of information sessions and workshops at the school to help the students learn about what it means to be an entrepreneur. With the help of mentors, who were business people in the region, they learned how to determine their product, create the product, about marketing, budgeting and creating signs and the kiosk.

Myre said that when they held an assembly to present the project to the students, she was surprised by how many were interested. “We were expecting maybe 20 or 30 kiosks,” she said. During the presentation, she asked the students randomly after explaining the project if it was something they would be interested in, and over 100 hands went up. Sure enough, 169 students came back with signed forms, eager to participate.

“There is a desire for it and a need. When you have more than half of your students participating, you know it’s resonating,” said Myre.

The project involves the entire community, said François Turpin, director of education at CSDCEO. “There are kids, parents, grandparents, business people in the community, teachers and staff members who are coming together to make the event a success,” he said. “The kids will have an experience that they will remember for many years to come.”

The event was inspired by La Grande Journée des Petits entrepreneurs du Quebec, a very similar event which began in 2014.While this event is a first for EECSJB, due to its success this year, Myre hopes to host it again next year. The school also held their annual picnic in conjunction with the event.

“If you look at all the communities in Prescott-Russell and SDG the community spirit is there, and when schools are integrated too, that’s what creates magical moments like this one,” Turpin said.