Local business developed by students and inmates

Published on 28th Sep, 2017

Meeting of minds and cultures in new business venture. Photo: Supplied

Six students from Mr Ivory’s senior Commerce class at St John’s College, Hastings, have gone in a business this year with six youth inmates from Hawke’s Bay Prison. The inmates are 16 to 19-year-olds who are serving either 6‒12 month, or life sentences. Their company called ‘Just Boards’, produces wooden serving platters under the name Bruthas Ltd and was launched in August.

The serving boards are made in the shape of waka and are packaged in recycled coffee sacks.

The idea was developed by student Jake Dunn’s vision for an entry in the Lions Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme. The scheme requires students to form real businesses and sell real products and services to the market. This year, nearly 3500 students and nearly 1000 companies are involved.

Jake was inspired when researching for an internal assessment. ‘I came across some appalling statistics that 80 per cent of young offenders reoffend.’ He said he wanted to enter the enterprise project with a product that could lower that statistic and to bring the school values of inclusion, integrity and compassion in. ‘And I wanted it to be original.’

For the last six months the students have been regularly visiting their business partners at the prison. Jake said, ‘the powhiri lifted all tensions and worries and it felt like we were just best friends talking to each other and the business venture.’

The business partners created recycled rimu platters, which interlock to symbolise a waka and draw on Māori culture.

Principal Corrections Officer Lawrence Ereatara says many of their rangatahi have ‘grown up in the system’ being exposed to drugs, alcohol, violence and the gang culture.

Just Boards [email protected] or www.stjohns.school.nz if you are interested in buying one.

‘A lot of them have mental-health issues as well. For them being able to see the other side, through the eyes of St John’s students as to what else is out there in the community, is the meeting of two minds but from two different cultures.’

St John’s Principal Paul Melloy said, ‘The values of inclusion, integrity and compassion displayed by our six fine young men is, in my experience as a teacher, incomparable. Truly, this was a magic moment in education, when our values come to the fore and excellence is displayed at the highest level. Many thanks to Mr Ivory for his leadership and vision.’

Published in WelCom October 2017

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