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Tuesday, 23 Jan 2018

My Big Idea

Supporting Our Next Generation of Entrepreneurial Thinkers

A Publication of the Prima Civitas Foundation

– by Matthew Hester, Teacher of R U Ready 4 BIZness Curriculum


lashaEntrepreneurship can be life-changing. It empowers you and builds confidence. It provides a vehicle for your dreams, aspirations, and hopes. Unfortunately, entrepreneurship education and opportunities are rarely offered to students with disabilities. Their achievements of overcoming great barriers are not always commended. R U Ready 4 BIZness Champion Lasha Mack-Bell did not allow her disabilities to stop her from becoming an entrepreneur. Lasha dreams of owning a restaurant or becoming a mechanic. She is being trained in both vocations at Drew Transition Center, a center-based program at Detroit Public Schools that teaches vocational skills to special needs students. Lasha is classified as cognitively impaired, yet in spite of negative stigmas and naysayers, she surpassed everyone’s expectations. Lasha explains how R U Ready 4 BIZness turned her life around and empowered her to take a stand by becoming a dynamic leader and CEO.

What inspires you to be an entrepreneur?

I want to be in control of my own destiny. I want to be the boss! As an entrepreneur, you have the opportunity to come up with ideas and see them come to fruition. I love entrepreneurship. I have been able to discover many of my talents and skills, and it makes me feel good about myself. This was the first time in my life that I have been in an entrepreneurship class; it was so fun and exciting. We had to compete against one another in Team Challenges. Each team had a CEO, and I was the one for my team. It gave me the opportunity to experience what CEOs go through in their actual companies. That was tough because I was responsible for the failure or success of our company.

What are your challenges being a special needs student?

The biggest challenge is how people view me. Many people think I am incapable of doing something extraordinary; they see my disability, not what I can do. I am aware that I have challenges, but it does not stop from me pursuing my dreams or doing something great! I am not just a black woman with special needs, but also human being who wants to encourage people of all genders, nationalities, colors, and abilities to not allow society’s stereotypical views limit our dreams or keep us from pursuing them. People with disabilities do have something to contribute to the world; we just need the opportunity to showcase our strengths and someone who believes in us.

"Don’t count me out, because I am just getting started!"
– Lasha Mack-Bell

What are your thoughts on the R U Ready 4 BIZness program?

The program has given me the confidence to become a youth leader at St. Peters Holiness Church where I go to church. I am taking the skills I learned from this curriculum and showing my youth group how we can raise money. Prior to being exposed to R U Ready 4 BIZness, I was reluctant to take on leadership roles and was in a “shell.” I was not as confident in myself and afraid of failing. Today I am enjoying being a leader and have learned that failure teaches you lessons on how to improve. I believe in myself and I empower my teammates to believe in themselves. R U Ready 4 BIZness has taught me so much in four months. I cannot believe how much it has changed me. I am applying what I learned in every aspect of my life-- at school, home, and in my community.

How did you feel by the end of R U Ready 4 BIZness program?

When I received the R U Ready 4 BIZness Champion Award, I just cried. I had my own video tribute of how I led my team to success. The video highlighted all of my accomplishments as team leader and team player; it felt so good because no one has ever done anything like this for me in my entire life! To receive this award was the highest honor, and I truly felt like a champion. R U Ready 4 BIZness is the best program and curriculum that I have ever experienced. It empowers and brings out the best in everyone. I am looking forward to being in this program in the fall and competing against my teammates. My motto is, “Don’t count me out,” because I am just getting started!

source: My Big Idea, magazine - Fall 2012 Edition, p14

"The destiny of our children is everyone’s responsibility and we must all join together in directing their paths. We are not limited by our disabilities, setbacks or failures, but by the fear of our ability to achieve."

– Laketa Dumas, R U Ready 4 BIZness

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