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Using skateboard building as a focus for students in business-related exercises grabs their attention. Students quickly understand the concept of supply and demand, and attendance at these classes is guaranteed.
There may be others, but the Oasis Skateboard Factory in Toronto has the most expanded and complete high school credit program that we know of to date. This brief outline of what Craig Morrisson and Lauren Hortie offer their students may provide some ideas to include in your curriculum or program plans.
Each student builds multiple skateboard decks. One deck becomes their own, then they are required to use their creativity to market the other decks to members of the outside community. The challenge is to offer their product for sale, then support that sale by completing the assignment to the customer’s satisfaction, and to deliver on time. Money management skills are learned, as the proceeds of the sales are used for replenishing materials, purchasing equipment such as screen printing and other tools, giving some to charity, as well as an honorarium for the student.
They support their sales efforts by learning about advertising and promoting the products they sell. Along with making skateboards, these students also develop and manufacture their own branded merchandise, such as buttons, t-shirts, hats and stickers. A media component is also part of the course. To promote their brands, they create videos, zines, graphic novels and print articles for magazines. Many previously failing students have improved their literacy skills with this program, and have successfully achieved their high school credits.
OSF offers design services to the community, using their skills a artists to design and manufacture merchandise. They also "hire out" their services through their outreach program to other schools, community groups and events. The students themselves are the teachers and are paid accordingly!
The OSF has attracted a large amount of media attention and students are continuously called upon to be spokespeople for their innovative school program. There are many heart-warming stories of the previously shy kid who turns into a confident speaker, able to communicate well in public, and to talk to a TV camera with ease about their entrepreneurial achievements. In addition to learning business skills, students become self-assured, confident as they proudly spread their positive message to the public. A good business move!
designing a marketable skateboard deck “product”
creating a business plan
supply & cost of raw materials
applying for grants, loans or donations
managing funds, book keeping and balance sheets
management of production schedules and delivery commitments
sales and marketing of the skateboard decks
promotional ideas and methods
entrepreneurship in the skateboard industry
contributing to society and the skateboard world
creating and delivering a social message through skateboard deck building