KANSAS CITY, Kan. — From the classroom to the real world, Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City is giving kids a chance to run their own town.
"We're growing and expanding," JAKC CEO and President, Megan Sturges Stanfield said.
The new Junior Achievement Youth Learning Lab will soon be home to several students who want to get a head start and learn about different careers.
"We want students to come in ready to learn, to have fun and to really think about you know what do they want their life to look like in the future," Sturges Stanfield said.
Hallmark, JE Dunn Construction and the Community America Credit Union are just a few of the companies taking part in the simulated business town.
"I just can't stop thinking about how exciting, and how memorable and life changing this is going to be for kids," Sturges Stanfield said. "It's been the hardest year of their life trying to learn from school and from home and maybe a hybrid in between."
"I just think there's a lot to be learned at this place," eight-year-old Julian Suarez said.
The third grader took it all in as he toured the new space.
He decided he wanted to start at Price Chopper's simulated storefront as a manager. He shared his reasons why.
"One, because they have food," he said with a smile. "And maybe because I've been to Price Chopper before, but I do like trying new things a lot."
Learning about selling, buying and managing, students get hands-on experience about what careers and entrepreneurial skills they may find interesting.
"Well, I feel like each organization will have a different lesson to learn when you go inside," Julian said.
From learning about construction to customer service, Julian said through Junior Achievement, he's able to learn not just about what he wants to do when he's older, but also financial lessons.
"How to use your money and if there's something expensive, you want to save for that," Julian said.
It's a space to see the early ideas of what our future leaders have in store.
"JA really helps you kind of work to get there, instead of doing it all on your own," Julian said.
The 22,000 square foot center isn't open just yet for students but should be within the next few weeks.
The center is open for students who go to a school or are a part of a youth organization that has Junior Achievement programs.
Starting Saturday, May 1, Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City will hold a financial fitness challenge called Sweat4Success.
It's a virtual racecourse around Kansas City. Participants will track daily workouts and physical activity from May 1 through May 15.
The goal is to complete 31.5 miles of exercise and be part of a metro-wide push to raise $50,000 by May 15th. To learn more about the challenge and other upcoming events, visit the group's website.