Student Spotlight: Be a Leader and Dream Big!
Author: Marshall Snedaker
December 30, 2015
When Mya was six years old, she had the opportunity of a lifetime—to pitch her business idea to the “dragons” of Dragons’ Den, an entrepreneurial reality TV show.
Mya’s mom Erin said that Mya and her dad always watched Dragons’ Den together, and one night Mya asked how she could be on the show.
“We snickered slightly but thought it was ‘cute,’ and said she needed to think of an idea first,” Erin recalled. “We discussed how she needed to keep her eyes open for a problem and then try to think of a solution for it.”
Mya talked about her first ideas and how she came up for the idea she pitched to the Dragons—a healthy-lunch reward system for kids called “Lunch Apeel.”
“I had lots of first ideas for Dragon’s Den, but the first one was really funny,” Mya said. “I thought of a robot who could apply makeup, but none of us knew how to make a robot. So we went back to the drawing board. After a few months, I noticed my mom would get frustrated that I didn’t eat any of the healthy stuff from my lunch, so we made a reward program and tried it, and we thought it was good enough to give to the Dragons.”
The reward program they came up with, Lunch Apeel, is based on the idea of making healthy food fun to eat. Each item in a child’s lunch is given a certain number of “Abby Apple” stickers, depending on how healthy it is.
When a student returns home, the parent looks at what food he or she ate and then the child gets to mark the corresponding number of apples on a chart. The child works toward getting 20 apples marked off in order to receive a reward the parent and child decide on ahead of time.
Mya said her favorite part of the experience was having a family to help and encourage her throughout the process. She also shared how her friends and classmates were supportive.
Mya attends Stettler Elementary, a Leader in Me School in Alberta, Canada. Mya loves the 7 Habits and learning how to be a leader. She shared how leadership principles she learned at school helped her in her entrepreneurial adventure.
“The 7 Habits helped me along the way to be a better person. I was proactive because I thought of the idea, and I never wanted to give up when my first try didn’t work,” Mya said. “I also used Put First Things First when I practiced and practiced and practiced, and then I got to play. I think the 7 Habits have helped me improve who I am.”
Because of Mya’s initiative and leadership skills, she was successful in securing funding from Dragons’ Den, and her business has grown. She also received invitations to be a leader for healthy eating from Barbie Super Squad and Mott’s Fruitsations, who has deemed her their “Chief Snack Expert.”
Mya has also used her business to give back to her community. Fifty percent of Lunch Apeel’s sales are donated to the Breakfast Club of Canada. In April 2015, Mya presented a $5,000 check to the organization.
Currently, Lunch Apeel is still going strong, and Mya continues to be a leader in other areas of her life. Mya shared her advice to other kids who want to pursue their dreams.
“Never give up just because your first try doesn’t work,” she said. “Never be afraid to make mistakes. Have fun, even though it’s really hard. And just be brave and dream big.”