We invited Simone Spears, Halifax Community Food Leader Participant, to share with us a bit about the BEEA Honey with Heart project. Simone supports this project through her work at Family SOS in Halifax.
Imagine growing up in a place that is affected by a high unemployment rate, single parent-led families, low education attainment, and residents who live below the poverty line and is also perceived to be unsafe, violent and riddled by vandalism and delinquent youth. Now imagine, growing up in a place where the youth are the community leaders, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, and are continually giving back. Would you believe me if I said this was the same community?
On a daily basis at Family SOS we are inspired and motivated by the youth in our programs. The youth of the BEEA Honey with Heart Youth Led Social Enterprise Project are no different. Two years ago youth in our Healthy Teenz program approached our leadership team with an idea, an idea to be young entrepreneurs. After several pitched ideas including granola bars and jewelry, our Honey Beez (now renamed to BEEA) project was born! BEEA means, you can be-a doctor, be-the next Prime Minister or be a singing star. To us, all that matters is that our youth know, they can be anything they want to be.
Our youth say that before BEEA, the community of Greystone was different – it was missing something. It was always a good place to live, but they know that people judge a community not by the people in it, but by what happens there. Even at the young age of 16, they know this. Starting their own business has changed their community. Greystone is no longer viewed as a community where the youth don’t care, or are “bad”. Greystone is now the home of one of the BEEA apiary sites.
Today the BEEA Honey with Heart program is operating in three communities around our city – the bees are located in Dartmouth North, Spryfield and Halifax at the NSCC Campus. Every second Thursday is a BEEA workshop night, where the youth learn things like sales and marketing skills, and they also get to spend time with the youth from all three communities. This has allowed us to break down barriers in these communities, and lasting friendships have been formed.
People ask the youth a lot, is BEEA a job? They say yes it is – but not a job you do to make money, they do this to be apart of something bigger than themselves and to leave a legacy in their communities. As one of the youth quoted in our last meeting, “we are planting seeds in a garden, we may never get to see” but we are so okay with that!