Teamwork and community spirit help schoolchildren spread positive messages in business challenge

3rd August 2022

YOUNG people have been inspired to work as a team on a social enterprise initiative thanks to a collaboration with an organisation which aims to help transform their community.

Children at Montreal Primary School in Cleator Moor worked on an eight-week Bright Stars programme with iSH, a transformative initiative for Copeland and West Cumbria, bringing employment, skills and training opportunities to regenerate communities and make a positive difference to people’s lives.

iSH, which will create 700 jobs in West Cumbria, is working in collaboration with industry, SMEs, schools, academia, charities, and community to ensure opportunities created in Cleator Moor and beyond are open to everyone.

iSH linked up with students and teachers at Montreal Primary School through the Centre for Leadership Performance’s Bright Stars initiative and helped mentor the children to create their own successful social enterprise initiative.

The Bright Stars 2022 competition challenged pupils to partner with local businesses to create their own social enterprises to ‘make a profit and make a difference’. More than 50 schools were each given £50 seed funding to begin their business.

At Montreal Primary School the students wanted to make a difference to people’s lives by putting positive messages on their bespoke arts and craft products to make them smile.

A total of 19 children at the school, aged seven and eight, formed the Positive Perseverance Company, and raised money for charity by making and selling more than 50 bracelets, 30 positive message keyrings, 20 tie dye scrunchies, and 10 tie dye bags.

The children created marketing posters to ensure their merchandise sold out. They even reinvested some of their profits to buy ice lollies which they sold for more profit.

After marathon man Gary McKee, who is raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Hospice at Home West Cumbria by running 365 marathons in 365 days this year, ran with the children on a short school run, they were inspired to donate half of their £166 profit to Gary’s charities. The rest is reinvested back into the school.

Mark Pattinson, Montreal Primary School teacher, who led the project working with iSH representative Sarah Watt, said: “It was a great initiative to be involved in as it married a lot of the things that we talk about, including teamwork and life skills, as well as maths and design and technology, and put them into practice in one social enterprise project.

“The children really enjoyed helping people. They wanted to do something with positive messages on because they know some people have had a very tricky couple of years.
“They were very keen on art and craft related products as those were things they said they would want to buy themselves. They did some market research about the type of products and the pricing, and they were proved right as they all sold out – in fact they were so popular we could not make them fast enough, they were selling so well!

“What was particularly pleasing was the way they all collaborated, shared ideas, and
really worked as a team.”

Sarah Watt, who was representing iSH in supporting the project, said: “The children were all amazing. Their ideas were brilliant and they put in a lot of effort and hard work.

They fully deserved the success they achieved. I hope they have been inspired about the opportunities which are open to them in the future.”

John Maddison, managing director of iSH, said: “Congratulations to all the young people involved for showing such impressive initiative, creativity and business acumen.

“Collaboration, teamwork, innovation, and inclusivity are all key to iSH and it’s great to see the younger generation showing these skills and attributes. Hopefully many will become young entrepreneurs and innovators and will bring their own energy and enthusiasm to the region’s business eco-system and community in years to come.

“Thanks also to Mark, Sarah, and all the teaching and support staff at Montreal Primary School for their energy and enthusiasm to help make this Bright Stars project such a success and to the Centre for Leadership Performance for their expertise in running such a popular and inspiring programme. It’s another example of the power and impact of true collaboration across our community.”

The Centre for Leadership Performance’s Bright Stars programme is now in its 10th year, encouraging leadership and entrepreneurship from a young age and developing relationships between Cumbrian businesses and primary schools. More than 1,000 young people took part in this year’s competition.

Executive director at the Centre for Leadership Performance Sarah Glass said: “We have seen more magnificent efforts and creativity from the children as they rose to this year’s Bright Stars challenge. We hope that it will enable the schools and businesses to forge on-going relationships and that the children build on their ideas and continue to make a difference in their local communities and for themselves.”