Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Youth FLY to Financial Literacy Conference

Lately, I've been reading the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to my daughter. When we got to the part where Dorothy and the gang have green-coloured glasses locked on to their heads by the gatekeeper of the Emerald City, I couldn't help thinking about the mysteriously glamorous world of financial products and services. My daughter and I agreed that the green-hued glasses are simply wrong. I think she even said they were "creepy."

Letting kids grow up without money skills is creepy too. But thanks to non-profit organizations like FLY (Financial Literacy for Youth), kids don't have to wait for we grown-up gatekeepers to unlock the green-coloured glasses and let them see the financial landscape as it really is.

Seriously, Youth Want to Learn About Money
It may seem counter-intuitive to some, but I have proof that kids want to learn about money. On May 14th, hundreds of high school and university students spent an entire day at McMath Secondary School in Richmond, BC furthering their financial education at a conference called "Finding Your Financial Piece of Mind." FLY directors Ampere Chan and Iris Lo said, "We're very impressed with the students who took initiative to come to the conference. Not only were more than 220 students willing to give up a Saturday, the attendees this year were the most engaged that we've ever had. Kudos to all the students who made the conference what it was!"

We arrived an hour or so after the conference kicked off. There were icebreaker activities going on in the gym. I could tell from the noise level that the students were having fun. After the icebreaker, the participants were sent off in teams to workshops led by accountants, investment bankers, financial consultants, credit counselors and finance managers.

Between workshops there were more large group games and activities focusing on financial vocabulary and reviewing the basic principles of saving, investing, earning and spending. There was also a trade show with a game that encouraged students to talk to the business professionals manning the booths.

Overall, the conference was well-done, highly professional and very youth-friendly. I was impressed and plan to get involved in future FLY events.

Help Spread the Word
There are several ways for teachers, professionals, businesses and parents to get involved with FLY. Teachers can partner by piloting the FLY curriculum (developed by students for students) in their classroom. Businesses and professionals can purchase sponsorship packages that include trade show space at the annual conference. Parents can help out, too, by letting their kids in high school or university know about the conference and telling other parents.

For more information and to stay in the loop, visit FLY online or join their Facebook page "Financial Literacy for Youth."

Remember, it's for a great cause: helping our kids see the financial landscape as it really is.

Copyright 2011. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission contact moneyme@telus.net.

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