Start Giving Children an Opportunity to Make Money in School
I was a poor child in school and it made school much harder for me. Innocent desires like buying sweets led me to think of worse ways to make money.
Schools appear to turn a blind eye to the harsh realities of being a poor child. When I was a student, I did not have the money to buy a new pair of trainers or look cool.
I will never forget wearing a pair of broken shoes for a month because my mother could not afford them. Breaking my school shoes was a regular occurrence. After all, I was a young boy who loved playing football with my friends.
However, that was not the problem. Everyone had a pair of kickers that at the time cost £100. These shoes were strong and way more resilient than my cheap £15 ones. But that is all my mother could afford, so I had to deal with breaking my shoes every month.
It was hard to hear all the other students laugh at my broken shoes. It got to the point where I started playing with no shoes to avoid being mocked by my peers.
It was also hard to even make friends outside of school in the first place. As I got older, everyone would go to get Mcdonalds or snacks after school for fun. I had a group of friends, but I always felt like I was holding them back every time I asked them to get me something.
Some of them stopped talking to me or would make sure I did not get on the same bus. It was a hard reality, but I was a broke student. My mother could not afford to give me pocket money every week like the other kids. If only I had a means of making money, I would not have to experience this.
I proposed the idea of having the ability to make money at school to my teachers before. Many of them were unsupportive and thought it was a silly idea. But as a broke student, it was my only way to better my connections and stop getting mocked.
In this article, I want to present the damaging reality of being broke in school as a student. Even if you are unsupportive of the idea, I hope you can see where I am coming from with the story I am about to share with you.
All I Wanted Was a Good Pair of Basketball Shoes
At the age of 14, I finally made it onto the basketball team. It was a dream of mine, and I was ready to show my teachers how good I was. However, there was one massive problem. I did not have basketball shoes.
Every player had a nice pair of trainers that they ran out in for training, and my next training session was next week. I had an emergency on my hands because I did not want to get mocked again.
I did have a random pair of old white trainers, but they were not as great as my peers. For the first two months of training, I decided to wear these. But after that, I had enough. It was time I got myself some good trainers to play the sport I loved.
Asking my mother for them ended badly. It was always the same thing:
“I have no money for those trainers. What do you think I am?! The bank!”
So I had to try another route. And it was simple. I was going to start selling snacks and drinks in school. Even though it was forbidden, it was the only way I could get those trainers. Also, it was time I earned some respect as the star basketball player, not the poor kid.
I asked my nan for £5 and started selling cookies, doughnuts and drinks in school. From her initial investment, I became a monopoly at school. Every year group knew where to find my little hideout to get their regular snacks at break and lunch.
It was not long until I was making a huge amount of money from it (school kid terms). The trainers were going to cost £150, and I was making around £6 profit every day. I even went up to £10 profit a day after my demand increased and I had to bring two bags of stock.
I went from the poor kid to the most popular. I could now borrow my friend’s money, and not to mention, get all the trainers I wanted. My mother was not happy that I was breaking school rules, but she stayed quiet because it was taking pressure off her.
Eventually, I got caught and got in terrible trouble. From that day on, the school checked our bags before we came in. You would think it was to look for weapons, but no, it was to stop the trend I started of selling in school.
I Was Poor Again but Could Have Become Rich
After a year of no selling, I was poor again. At the age of 15, a new student joined the school, and he was a smoker. He was also a terrible student, which meant he hanged out with the bad kids.
As I was a bad child myself, it was not long until I started smoking with him. We would all go to the back of the school and smoke all sorts of things. Before you knew it, we had this marvellous idea to start selling shisha pens.
We were selling them to the older year groups for £20 a pack of flavours. They all had money because they were old enough to work. Thank God that was short-lived because the student supplying our stock got kicked out. He got caught smoking in a place he should not have been.
It was a close call for me, and I stayed away from doing anything like that again.
Why This Story Is Important
There were many children like me in school. They came from low-income homes and had no way to buy sweets or snacks without asking their friends. An innocent desire like not wanting to be mocked can quickly turn into something bad, like selling drugs.
All I wanted was a little pocket money to enjoy going to the shop with my friends. If I had that, I would have never gone down this rabbit hole.
What if students could stay behind to clean the school for 20 minutes for a £1? What if it was possible to set up a little store in school to sell cookies or drinks they made?
Unfortunately, that child who came in as a smoker is now in prison. Also, another one of my poor friends in school got stabbed recently for being part of a rival gang.
Being poor as a student is not easy. And many of us do end up doing stupid things for money because it becomes heaven to us. It is the way out of being bullied and a path to being considered cool.
If you got this far, you do care about the topic. So, I pose the question to you. How can schools and education start supporting children from low-income backgrounds?
NOTE: The question did not say, parents. Things like free school meals and cheaper books for children in households earning below a certain income is helping the parents directly. The child does not see the benefit.
I am a Visionary and Writer who seeks to enrich society by challenging how we do business today to lead to a world of better leaders and opportunities tomorrow.