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Sunnyside students being given hands-on lessons in 'financial literacy'

In the coming months Sunnyside students will be introduced to "financial literacy" through Junior Achievement programs throughout the district.

That's according to Junior Achievement of Washington Regional Director Greg Jewell, who spoke at Wednesday morning's Daybreak Rotary Club meeting.

Junior Achievement of Washington focuses on aiding students in owning their financial futures. Programs are offered to students of all ages, and teach a variety of financial literacy facets. Courses include teaching students how to compose resumes, acquire employment and manage a business. In addition, students learn at a young age how to differentiate between spending money for "wants" versus "needs," says Jewell.

Students participate in a five-to-seven-week course, which is taught in classrooms by volunteers in 45-minute sessions, once a week. Then students head to the capstone of the course, which takes place at Yakima's new JA World facility that opened last year. Courses and programs at the facility vary depending on students' age, but fifth grade students are simulating managing a business by paying payroll and bills and making profits.

The 19,400 square foot facility offers a full day of "work" for students. Valley businesses have partnered with Junior Achievement to allow their store fronts to allow students to "work" at local businesses while learning the ropes of a successful financial future. From newspaper staff, to car salesmen and meter readers, student job options run the gamut.

But one thing is clear, says Jewell; students leave the program more prepared to take on the world as responsible contributors to society and the economy.

The Sunnyside School District recently signed on to involve students in Junior Achievement programs and Jewell says he foresees a need for nearly 20 in-class volunteers. In addition, when students enter the capstone phase of the course, additional volunteers will be needed for the trip to the Terrace Heights facility. Volunteers are trained through Junior Achievement and are given a packet to aid in teaching students the course material. Jewell says the courses will be underway in classrooms in nearly 45 days.

For more information or to volunteer, call (509) 853-1234.

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