June 18, 2019
For elementary school teacher Mitchell Feinman, having his grades five to eight students participate in The Learning Partnership’s Entrepreneurial Adventure program was a great opportunity to raise awareness to help his students with developmental disabilities. By participating in Entrepreneurial Adventure, a program that prompted students to create their own business venture with the help of a business mentor from the community, Mr. Feinman hoped to foster various entrepreneurial and socio-economic skills that his students would be able to use post 21 years of age.
With a focus on equitable access to arts programs, resources, and enrichment, Mr. Feinman and his Gulfstream Public School class was partnered with Greg Mahon, the president of Greg’s Ice Cream. Utilizing Greg’s Ice Cream store as the location for their venture and Greg’s notable mentorship skills, the Children’s Museum of Toronto venture was launched. The Children's Museum of Toronto is an unique pop up children's art museum with plans to have a gift shop that sells rare vinyl picture disc records which have been carefully assembled by the students. The nine students assisted in many aspects of the creation of the venture, such as creating and distributing information about the store, and curating the exhibit. Proceeds from the project went to support Community Living Toronto, Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada and Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada, SickKids Foundation and The Salvation Army - Broadview Village.
The success of the Children’s Museum of Toronto did not stop at the one pop up shop. Since the event, Mr. Feinman and his class have garnered numerous opportunities to further raise awareness and promote community inclusion for those living with development disabilities. The team has received a written endorsement for their work from Community Living Toronto where they will plan future community events. They have also developed and presented their project at the first Annual United Nations Association of Toronto’s ‘Blueprint for Change’ conference and to the New York City Mayor’s Office for Disabilities.
The overall impact of participating in Entrepreneurial Adventure for the school community was far beyond what was imagined. For Mr. Feinman, the program was able to provide a framework to educate from a global perspective and to further enhance the TDSB’s reputation as an international leader in education. Parents have also seen the impact of the program, Jamal’s mother felt so much pride when she saw her son with autism receive the ‘Judge’s Choice’ award with his classmates at the BMO Showcase exhibition. She realized that there are no limitations on what her son may be able to accomplish in the future, despite his disability.
The grade five to eight students in the class experienced the greatest benefit from the program. By participating in the venture, students surpassed learning expectations, obtained a pre-vocational work education skill set, and were trained with the necessary supports to acquire skills to be used to gain employment after leaving school. One of Mr. Feinman’s students with autism also won the School Trustee Award for their involvement, the first time a student with special needs received this recognition.
Through The Learning Partnership’s Entrepreneurial Adventure program, Mitchell Feinman and his nine students, along with the support of their mentor Greg Mahon and the community, were able to create an impactful and successful business venture. The blending of education with business allowed for the Children’s Museum of Toronto to positively influence the students and positively affect their future. By promoting collaboration among school board senior staff and community partners, Mr. Feinman feels that he is a much better position to lead professional committees targeting long range planning for necessary support services for students with developmental disabilities such as autism and their families.
The Children’s Museum of Toronto was the Judges’ Choice in BMO National Student Innovation Awards. The Learning Partnership’s Entrepreneurial Adventure is an experiential learning program for Kindergarten to Grade 12 that empowers students to create a business venture right in the classroom. Supported by business mentors and their teachers, students work together to create their own ventures, with funds raised going towards a registered charity of their choice. The program is offered at no cost to schools thanks to the generous support of BMO.