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YSM President & CEO Angie Peters speaks to young entrepreneurs at YSM's Fish Tank

Cornerstone students enter the YSM Fish Tank

What gets kids thinking as entrepreneurs and diving enthusiastically into learning about money management? A challenge, in January, to compete in YSM’s first-ever Fish Tank, a business case competition.

Over three days, sixty students between the ages of 8 and 13 participated in Junior Achievement’s “More than Money” program led by JA Central Ontario and YSM’s Cornerstone Family Services.

First, the students learned how to create a business plan. One student (pictured, right) wanted to launch a restaurant
offering South Asian cuisine. Another imagined running his own year-round hot chocolate and lemonade stand. One young girl outlined an idea for a winter wear shop that would keep people warm in the cold weather.

Then, during our Fish Tank competition, students presented their unique business ideas through display boards and PowerPoints to a panel of judges.

“I learned how to be confident,” one participant wrote afterward. “It was my first presentation in front of people and judges, and they were nice, and I got confident.” Another said, “I liked when we were working on presentations. I liked hearing the other presentations, too.”

The judges selected two winners—the older winner earned a camera and the younger winner won a buildyour-own computer. Both received $100 gift cards for a celebratory family meal thanks to House on Parliament restaurant.

More than just an event, Fish Tank was about providing kids with the space and opportunity to showcase their creativity.

“At JA Central Ontario, we envision a world where all young people have the tools, confidence and connections to shape a bright future,” says Jennifer Holmes Weier, President & CEO of JA Central Ontario. “We were thrilled to work with YSM to empower students with real-life skills that unlock their true potential – as future entrepreneurs, changemakers and community leaders.”

“It’s amazing,” says Dania Sands-Blake, YSM’s Care Management and Education Specialist for Cornerstone. “When kids catch a vision for something, they can run with it faster than we can as adults. They just grab it and run.”