JA BizTown: Letting Children “Practice” for Their Future

Imagine a community of bankers, retail shop owners, restaurateurs and politicians. Everyone there strives to do the best job to achieve personal success and create a vibrant community. Now imagine what would happen if all the residents were age 12 and under. You’ve just entered Junior Achievement’s JA BizTown.

Junior Achievement of Central Maryland turns its Owings Mills headquarters into a vibrant, bustling community of grade-school children who experience running and working for businesses, acting as politicians, voting, and using the bank to help manage their money. JA BizTown gives elementary school children a fun experience while helping them develop the skills needed to work and live.

According to Jennifer Bodensiek, president of Junior Achievement of Central Maryland: “Some of us were lucky to have parents that taught us the basics of success: how to shake someone’s hand and look them in the eye, the critical connection between studying, hard work, and success, or simply how to earn and manage money. But many young people, far more than most successful people realize, do not have such role models. That’s where Junior Achievement steps in. And in a big way. When I think of our free enterprise system, and what it means to our country, I can’t think of more important work.”

Susquehanna Bank team members have acted as JA BizTown volunteers.

“The program allows the kids to have fun while giving them a peek at what their parents’ lives are like – working, budgeting, investing, and making financial decisions,” said Assistant Vice President Cathy Brooks. “As a volunteer for the bank, I’m impressed by the fun and creative ways Junior Achievement has arranged the JA BizTown program in an effort to introduce future life skills to children’s lives. The children seem to love the experience!”

Financial Service Representative Ryan Dudash said, “In JA Biztown I witnessed a realistic business environment where elementary school children become townspeople and take roles in their community. From my experience the students start to understand how hard their parents work to make money and support them. I saw shy kids being encouraged by their classmate. I saw how the level of enthusiasm, productivity and creativity increased after one group’s first sale. This program promotes life skills of hard work, togetherness and bringing value to our communities and neighbors.”

Susquehanna Bank recognizes the role that having a well-prepared workforce plays in creating safe, pleasant communities that people can enjoy living in. We encourage our employees to get out into the community to work with children and their parents to help build financial skills. We also offer accounts to give children a positive banking experience, like our MegaBuck$ Kids Club Savings Account. Options like these – along with opportunities like JA BizTown – give children the chance to “practice” for their grown-up lives and careers.

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Posted in Financial Education, In the Community.

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