This is a picture of my 9 year old daughter, Teagan, participating in a program called Instill Life, developed by social entrepreneur Nikos Theodosakis and my Enactus Okanagan College students who have helped to develop and grow the program. What I love about Instill Life is that students learn about food, and where it comes from, and the importance of healthy eating and sustainability. Students create their own pictures that are inspired by their favourite foods. The paintings then become beautiful gift cards and are sold throughout the community. Students are then empowered through entrepreneurship to take the money they earn and donate it to a cause like Kiva, learning about the needs of entrepreneurs in developing countries around the world, and being armed with the choice to choose where that money goes. On a classroom map, photos and stories from around the globe bring the world to life as students bring life to the world. Through a journey that connects math, science, language arts, social studies, nutrition, entrepreneurship, sustainability and global citizenry, students explore their connection to the world around them and their potential to create real change in the world through their own artwork.
To see first-hand the learning that a program like this makes, through my daughter’s participation, makes me realize that even at a very young age, young people can be creative, and can be inspired to help apply their own skills to help support others in communities beyond their own borders.
What I saw through Teagan’s eyes, and through her card, was that she grew in confidence, and took opportunities to speak about what she learned from the program and that it engaged many of her classmates. The stories they learned from these entrepreneurs through KIVA really connected to them (for example, a student of a single mom lent to a business owner who was also a single mom).
In a small way, these students are becoming social entrepreneurs by using their talents, and raising funds to help fund micro businesses in developing areas that sustain their local economies.
My sister is an artist, and I have been privy to seeing the way that she has expressed herself through her painting and also used her art to raise funds and awareness for issues in society. Now, through the Instill Life project and my daughter Teagan’s involvement, I once again see the potential that art has to reach out, create stories, inspire change and make a difference.