For the first time in the history of Awesome Newcastle, a no-strings-attached grant giveaway of $1000 was awarded to one lucky kid with a good idea! Clever children between the ages of 6-14 across Newcastle applied with their great ideas, and the board narrowed it down to five to come pitch last night at Persona Communications. Just one lucky duck would take home the moolah.
The idea for Awesome Newcastle For Kids happened after Claire Wheeler of Kid Biz Academy won Awesome Newcastle back in February. Claire returned last month as a guest board member and the concept of Awesome Newcastle For Kids was born. During April, we accepted kids applications, and last night was the final round. Along with our regular board members, we welcomed several guest board members including Louise Joannou of Persona Communications, Dan Marshall of Curious About Science (also a finalist at last month’s Awesome Newcastle) and of course Claire Wheeler.
We enjoyed some delicious soft drinks, cheese and potato chips and got down to the business of good ideas and free money. It’s a pretty big deal to stand up for three minutes and make a pitch; some grown ups don’t even like speaking in front of a crowd!
Six year old Tobias Thornton went first, he’s The Little Entrepreneur. In 2022 he began selling fresh herbs from his garden. Then a community member gave him some chili trees and he ended up with an oversupply. He decided to make some chili jam which proved to be really popular with family and friends. Now his jams are sold at three locations and have even won awards at The Newcastle Show’s Preserves Competition. He would use the $1000 to buy equipment to make more jam and to grow more of his own ingredients.
Next up we had ten-year-old Lotte Burrell of “The Wild Wild Kids Book”. She told us that she’s been learning a lot about nature and wants to encourage her friends and other kids to get outside, enjoy, explore and go wild wild in nature. She’s been illustrating animals, insects, plants and mushrooms and wants to make an awesome interactive book and journal to inspire others. Her dad is a graphic designer and has promised to help her make the book professionally. She would use the money to gather and publish her content and also print and promote it.
Our third finalist of the evening were sisters Zoe and Ella Jones, aged 7 and 10 respectively. The pair are called “The ArteSisters”. They create and design their own greeting cards and wrapping paper with positive and uplifting messages. Each card and wrapping paper design is different, hand drawn and made of recycled material. They would use the money to set up a website and print cards with foil and produce bigger sizes. They would like to buy a market banner and table. They want to see their cards sold in shops and their designs printed on t-shirts, coffee cups and more.
Our fourth finalist was 13-year-old Oliver Neusuess of Livewire Lures. From age four he has loved fishing, and he used to go with his pop who taught him everything he knew. His pop sadly passed away five years ago. Oli saved up to buy his own boat and loves sharing his passion. Recently he set up a small business, making and selling his own soft plastic lures to the fishing community in the Lake Macquarie and Newcastle. He would use the money to recycle soft plastic lures that are ripped in the fishing process so they don’t go into the water or a landfill. Soft plastic lures can be re-melted in the microwave to produce new lures.
Our final finalist of the evening was eight-year-old artist Ella James “The Blind Artist”. Ella is profoundly vision impaired and wants to hold an art workshop for kids with disabilities and then hold an exhibition afterwards. She loves art and want to share her passion with others. She would use the money to hold the workshop and to buy art supplies including canvases, paints and paintbrushes. She would also put some money towards hiring a space to display their artwork.
The board had five incredibly amazing young finalists to choose from. How could they ever pick a winner when all these kids are so talented?! But at last votes were cast, and we invited Claire up to announce the winner. Claire thanked all the kids for doing such an awesome job, and then she passed the money to Oli of Livewire Lures! Congratulations Oli, we are so impressed by how much work you’ve put in so far, and we can’t wait to see how far you go! I think it’s fair to say we are hooked on your idea.
Thank you to all the lovely people who helped make Awesome Newcastle For Kids such a success this month. We’re back to our regularly scheduled program for June, but we just might do this again sometime, no kidding!