HARVIN COLUMN: Contest looking for young entrepreneurs

Here at Your Lowcountry, we see a lot of requests for contest entries and, normally, we pass them onto readers without comment.

But this particular contest struck a chord because it rewards young entrepreneurs and helps them build skills.

The Build-A-Bear Workshop is looking for Huggable Heroes, defined as young social entrepreneurs who are changing the world.”

The Heroes program wants to make this 10th year special.

The program is looking for young people ages 8-18 who are making their world a better place.

Ten of these heroes will receive $12,200, which includes an educational scholarship, a donation to a charity of their choice and mentoring scholarship to support their charitable entrepreneurships.

The company also is joining forces with the prestigious Jefferson Awards for Public Service, one of the nation's top community service recognition programs founded 40 years ago by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

According to a press release from Build-A-Bear, the Jefferson Awards' Globechangers training and mentoring systems will help equip this newest generation of philanthropists with the tools it needs to build a lifetime of public service.

Each hero will be paired with a mentor through the Jefferson Awards system for a year to develop valuable skills for writing business plans, networking and fundraising.

Now, if you are a young entrepreneur, and we have written about an amazing number in our area in the past two years, this is an great opportunity.

Winners will benefit from some hands-on training by qualified people. There is no better way for a young person to learn than joining forces with those who have already done what they want to do.

I had a recent exchange of emails about this same topic with former state Rep. Jimmy Bailey, who now runs YESCarolina, the South Carolina organization dedicated to teaching youths the principles of entrepreneurship and free enterprise.

Both of us agree that learning these skills at an early age is fundamental to America's future. Not everyone is going to be able to go to college, especially with the increasing cost of higher education, but learning basic business skills can help anyone have a better life as an adult.

Bailey said he thinks that the education system as a whole doesn't understand this yet, but students do. Given the tools, young people can have great experiences that will show them business basics, whether they are going to be an employee all of their life, or want to build a business of their own.

That's why entering this contest seems like a great idea for some of you who are already experimenting with businesses.

Nominations will be accepted through the website buildabear.com/huggableheroes or by mail until Feb. 28.

And if you or someone you know happens to be one of the finalists, let us know and we will feature you in Your Lowcountry.

Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or sharvin@postandcourier.com.

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