Original Published 20:28 May 02, 2022

By Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Entrepreneurial high schoolers are selling “Journey Jars” to encourage Manitobans to socialize after being cooped up at home for much of the last two years because of COVID-19.

Grade 12 student Justin Patrocinio called going to class in 2020-21 “a chore.”

Public health measures required strict physical distancing so students had to remain seated at assigned desks. Social interaction was limited since lingering around after class and mingling with other cohorts was discouraged; pupils were encouraged to quickly leave the building at lunchtime. Many extracurriculars and events were cancelled.

“Many of us were taking precautions about spreading COVID and we were afraid of getting it and passing it on to our own family members, so we took precautions and stayed home as much as possible. My teen experience was kind of ripped away from me and I want to revive that,” said Justin, president of Revive Manitoba — a new company founded by students from Windsor Park Collegiate.

That’s why Justin, 17, and his peers involved in an after-school business program, which is facilitated by Junior Achievement Manitoba, created a product that encourages Winnipeggers to make up for lost time. Their so-called Journey Jars are filled with slips of botanical paper on which there are ideas for social activities and outings.

Customers can pick a paper from their jar, complete the activity, and then plant the respective wildflower seed scroll so it can grow, bloom and remind users of their growth in journeying back into the world after a chaotic couple of years.

“It really is a full circle, with reviving our memories,” said Justin, adding his experience with the 21-week-long extracurricular — which culminates with selling student-built products at trade fairs — prompted him to apply to university business programs.

Last weekend, three JA Manitoba businesses, with students hailing from schools across the province, set up booths at Kildonan Place to show off their products. Stain removers, decorative plant propagation stands, and Journey Jars were on sale.

“It’s about developing ideas, designing, ideating, iterating, experimenting, sales. It’s like a startup,” said Adriano Magnifico, career and entrepreneurship consultant for the Louis Riel School Division.

JZ Duhaylungsod, vice-president of finance of Revive Manitoba, estimates her team has been putting in upwards of 10 hours on their business each week throughout the academic year.

“It’s been life-changing to me, honestly, because I didn’t know what to do after Grade 12… But now, I’ve decided to go to university and pursue finance because that’s my position and I’m actually liking how running this whole thing is,” said the international student from the Philippines.

The most rewarding part has been selling the $10 product to strangers who believe in their idea, the 18-year-old said.

To date, Revive Manitoba has sold 115 Journey Jars.

This item reprinted with permission from Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg, Manitoba