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Partnership teaches local kids how to spend, save money
Junior Acheivement and YMCA team together for after-school program
YMCA employee Tiffany Mayweather helps Kathryn Geyer, 7, fill out her sheet as a group of students learn financial literacy at New Holland Core Knowledge Academy during an after-school program Thursday afternoon.

More businesses in America were started during the Great Depression than any other time in history.

Because of the current economic recession, Junior Achievement and YMCA officials believe this generation's children can do the same.

"Nowadays a lot of adults don't have a lot of money sense, so to speak," said Debbie Powell, program director for after-school programs at Hall County Youth Achievement YMCA. "They're going to raise their kids with what they know ... A lot of the kids don't have exposure to a lot of these things."

With that in mind, Powell came to Lee Highsmith, executive director of the Northeast District of Junior Achievement for Georgia, with an idea to partner to teach children how to manage money.

So far, the partnership served 650 local students in grades kindergarten through five, Highsmith said.

The after-school program uses board games and activities to teach kids about earning, spending, saving and sharing money. They learn how to manage a bank account and how to start a successful business, so they can start earning money to put in their bank account.

"They emphasize personal responsibility — responsibility for yourself, responsibility for your education, for your future and your finances," Highsmith said.

Highsmith said in addition to money matters, the classes teach students the differences between needs and wants, and the importance of getting a high school diploma.

"It's offered hands-on experience to open students' minds to their full potential," she said.

Highsmith said one of her favorite parts of the program is the sharing money portion, which shows students how they can use their money to give back to their community.

And the Junior Achievement lessons are correlated to Georgia Performance Standards kids learn in their regular classrooms, which helps them prepare for standardized tests, Highsmith said.

"They're learning how to add and subtract (through the Junior Achievement lessons) and how that connects with the real world. Why do I need to know how to add and subtract? It's so you can use a bank account," she said.

Powell said the students and their parents enjoy the program.

"I really like it. Now when I get older I want to know how to do a bank account, deposits and withdrawals," said Elijah Pierce, 10, a fifth-grader at New Holland Core Knowledge Academy.

"Junior Achievement is the greatest thing I've played."

Pierce learned it was also important to have a bank account when starting a business.

"You have to plan it out before you even start because I wouldn't want it to shut down on the second day," he said.


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