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Lemonade Day Monroe County holds kickoff for 2024 event, recruiting youth to learn more about entrepreneurship

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The Monroe County chapter of the Lemonade Day organization, a nationwide youth entrepreneurship program, held its 2024 kickoff 11 a.m. to 4 p.m, Saturday in College Mall. March 2 was the first day children could sign-up for the June 22 event. 

Lemonade Day, started in 2007 by entrepreneur Michael Holthouse, is a free community-wide event for children to learn entrepreneurial skills. Given the required resources, participating kids learn how to start, own and operate their own business in the form of a lemonade stand. Led by the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington and The Mill, this is the thirteenth year for the program in Monroe County.  

Lemonade Day leaders had various booths set up around College Mall to recruit children for the program, hand out informational resources and give free T-shirts to those who signed up. The Lemonade Day mascot Lemmy, a lemon head wearing a yellow suit, was available for pictures. 

On Lemonade Day in June, children who set up stands will have their location featured on maps in local newspapers and posted on social media in the days leading up to the event for community members to come and support.  

Ashley Wesley with the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington was the previous Lemonade Day city director. She was stationed at a booth outside of Target near the mall’s play area. 

“They can set up stands at a business, or at their home, and they get to keep all of their profits,” Wesley said. “They learn essentially how to set up a business from creating a business plan, asking for investments, getting materials together to actually selling the product and reaping the benefits of raising money.”  

Wesley said the kickoff event was hoping to recruit 300 children for the June 22 Lemonade Day. According to Lemonade Day leaders, 755 children registered for the 2023 event.  

“It’s important to teach kids resiliency,” Wesley said. “Teaching them how to build their own business gives them a lot of confidence. It teaches them about interpersonal interactions, communication skills – it really builds resiliency and grit.”  

Laura Blaker, the current Lemonade Day city director, set up in the College Mall food court helping kids who were interested in signing up. She said many children who participated in past Lemonade Days come back for the kickoff.  

“Today, we are only here getting kids registered,” Blaker said. “After today, we will be out and about throughout the community, at school carnivals, any kid related event getting kids signed up for the program.” 

Lemonade Day of Monroe County will also host a “Lemonade Day University” open house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m, June 1 at The Mill with stations educating children on financial literacy, product development, customer service and food safety, among many other topics.  

The kickoff is meant to celebrate the first open day for registration, while also bringing awareness of the program's existence to others.  

“When we do this, it's great because we will have repeats come here just to sign up,” Blaker said. “But then it's wonderful that we are educating so many other people in the community about this wonderful entrepreneurship program that we put on.”  

Kristina Hobbs-Ragan's family was at Blaker’s booth to sign up their 12-year-old daughter for the 2024 event. She participated the year before and was meeting a friend at the mall to register again.  

“I think it was one of the biggest things that she’s done that really boosted her own confidence,” Hobbs-Ragan said, “It was the first time she had done anything like that herself and it was running her own business. It was a pretty big deal.”  

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