Sarah Short took over the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (YEC) when she joined Enterprise Greater Moncton (now called 3+ Corporation) back in 2011. She connected to its mission, which is why, three years ago, she asked if she could take it and run it solely for youth.
Mischka: You’ve said to me before that entrepreneurship is a vehicle that we can use to empower youth. Why do you think entrepreneurship is so important for the kids of today?
Sarah: The way that society has evolved has resulted in us knocking the creativity out of kids, despite our good nature and best intentions. Our economy, our strategies for growth, the methods we use to ensure prosperity – they’re all knowledge-based. There’s no system in place to foster creativity. We need to help them hone in on what’s possible, help them explore their ideas. We need to empower them through this process.
“Everything starts with an idea.”
Mischka: Why are you so passionate about empowering our youth?
Sarah: I’ve always had big, crazy ideas, and enough people have asked me, ‘Are you sure you want to do that? Is it realistic? Are you the right person for that?’ And I’ve had enough. I don’t want our kids to have, to quote Natalie Davison, “creative scars” or shame around creativity. I want them to allow themselves and be allowed to get all their ideas out, to find out what works and what doesn’t, to fail forward.
Mischka: So what were you hoping to create with the YEC?
Sarah: I wanted the YEC to become a curator of resources and mentorship. I didn’t want it to be about experts in any one thing. The goal was to empower youth, to create space for them, celebrate them, give them the tools to develop and explore. My hope was that the YEC would facilitate their creativity.
Mischka: At this year’s gala event, you announced that this was your last year running the YEC. How do you feel looking back?
Sarah: This will always be something I keep close to my heart. When I look back, I feel proud. We’ve done a lot of good in New Brunswick. I think we’ve opened doors for our youth.
Mischka: What do you hope for the future of the YEC?
Sarah: I’d love to see the YEC expand beyond New Brunswick’s borders. The YEC definitely hit its stride last year, and I think it’ll only keep getting better and better.
Mischka: Do you have any words for our youth?
Sarah: This is for every child in Canada: your voice is important. You don’t have to wait for someone to do things for you, to tell you it’s a good idea, to tell you you have a chance. Go out and get your hands dirty. Just try. Don’t be afraid of failure. Give in to your curiosity and your creativity. Become the leaders of tomorrow. I believe in you, we all believe in you.
We have all enjoyed watching the YEC grow each year. We have all enjoyed being inspired by the wild and wonderful ideas of New Brunswick’s youth. We’ve sat in awe as we listened to their plans to save the world, heal the environment, fight poverty, and more. Sarah has shown us that their imagination has no bounds, and that if we let them, they’ll make this world a better place. Thank you Sarah for these past 7 years. Thank you.