ROCHESTER N.Y. (WROC) — Prosper Rochester’s WellVentions is an emotional wellness and business skill job training for youth, that uses a social and emotional learning curriculum.
The program teaches youth how to run a business by having them take control of every part of it by creating schedules, counting inventory, and dealing with customers by selling their own products including a sauce, hats, and puppets. Those profits fund the creation of new inventory and labelling– all done by the teenaged participants.
“It’s giving us another way without having to wok for somebody else,” said Diecyana Stewart one of the youth entrepreneurs at WellVentions. “We’re building our own so we can work for ourselves.”
This year the youth identified bullying and cyberbullying as a priority issue they’d like to tackle and one of the ways they’re going about that is by performing a live, interactive puppet show designed to help younger children navigate their response to bullies.
“They were learning about cognitive distortions, which are the thoughts you have in your head that might not be so nice to you,” said Jill Stolt, Prosper Rochester’s CEO and Executive Director. “Then they created characters that represent the wise words you tell yourself when you hear those thoughts in your head.” Kamari Rollins, one of the youth participants, said “our puppet show is basically a response. It gives you an idea of what to do in a situation.”
For their hard work, the teenagers recieve a stipend, commission, and bonuses. But the youth market is also a great place to buy a feel good gift that helps fund the business venture.
“When we’re at the market and we talk to the parents about what the puppets stand for in our puppet show a lot of parents are intrigued,” said Yarielys Castro-Lopez, one of the young entrepeneurs, “so they’ll buy one for their kid.”
According to CEO Jill Stolt the youth company is set to take its curriculum online and sell the most popular market products by next year. But the main goal is to empower young people to be their own, responsible, boss.
If you’d like to learn more you can catch the puppet show at the Maker Faire this Saturday.