Going clockwise, Holly Schultz, Lilly McLeod, Patrick Carroll, Kelly Balon, Caelan Ballantyne and Billy Wade out the finishing touches on some fall pumpkins. (Photo by Michaela Ludwig)

Going clockwise, Holly Schultz, Lilly McLeod, Patrick Carroll, Kelly Balon, Caelan Ballantyne and Billy Wade out the finishing touches on some fall pumpkins. (Photo by Michaela Ludwig)

HJ Cody’s Cool Kids putting their creativity to work

HJ Cody High School’s Cool Kids started their own food service business in February 2020 and the group has recently branched out into the home decoration industry.

The group, called Creative Gems by Cool Kids and part of the Inclusive Education program, creates all kinds of interesting crafts to sell within the school, to teachers in other schools in the district and, most recently, to the public.

“This is a work experience opportunity,” said Jamie Fisher, an educational assistant (EA) with the program. “We make and sell the products and earn money.”

Fisher said the group had some money left over last year, after covering expenses for the items they create, so the group voted and decided to use the money for a trip to the Calgary Zoo.

The Creative Gems by Cool Kids has created wooden pumpkin decorations, Easter bunnies, snowmen, welcome signs, decorative lighting, bottle openers, ghost decorations and wreaths, just to name a few, and some of the group members also refinish larger furniture items. Deegan Gulak, a grade 12 student who has been with the Cool Kids since it began in 2020, has enjoyed fixing up and painting tables so far and he said he hopes to try refinishing a dresser next.

The Cool Kids also make and sell baked goods, such as cupcake bouquets for Mother’s Day, a cupcake and rose combo for Valentine’s Day and they make and giveaway popcorn during school events. They’ve also launched weenie Wednesdays, selling a hot dog, a bag of chips and a pop to students for $45.

The Cool Kids Café was the initial pilot project in 2020, where the students ran a coffee cart. They would take orders from staff and deliver the coffee during the connect block on Wednesdays. However, food handling was a tricky subject during and after COVID, so the group moved towards building products.

“We thought we could do some cool crafts and build some transferrable skills,” Fisher explained.

Creative Gems by Cool Kids was recently opened up to the community through a new Facebook page. Fisher said she’s hoping to build some bridges with the community, such as partnerships, employment and volunteer opportunities for the students.

“This is at the grassroots level,” Fisher said of the program. “So there’s not a lot of funding yet. Anything we get from outside sponsorship is always helpful. Any money we earn goes back into the program.” She added that the Paint Stop recently offered the Cool Kids a commercial discount on product, which goes a long way for the crafts they create.

“We want to continue to grow within the school,” said Fisher, adding that they are considering opening up the Creative Gems class to other students outside of Inclusive Education, so more students can build these skills. “The more accepting we can make it, the more inclusive our environment becomes.”

If you would like to discuss an order, donation or sponsorship with Creative Gems by Cool Kids, you can reach out to Holly Schultz, another EA with Inclusive Education, at hschultz@cesd73.ca. And be sure to follow the group on Facebook.

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