Most of us have been that young person in high school at one time or another.

 

No one to eat lunch with. No one to walk to classes with. No one to talk to.

Listening to conversations all around you, people laughing and having fun, making inside jokes.

You haven’t worked out just yet that you are not alone and striking up conversation is not the scariest thing in the world. You don’t realise that there are lots of kids feeling the exact same way that you do now.

For Tanieka Booth-McNeill, that kid was her.

“I was depressed and lonely not even 12 months ago. I was dealing with bullies and then this year I just learned to love myself,” Tanieka said.

“My mum, Naomi Booth, played a really big part and my scout leader, Tamara Harris, helped me to develop that self-belief. They pushed me every step of the way and that is why I am like this now.”

As Tanieka’s confidence grew so did an idea.

“I have a passion for helping people so I liked the idea of having positive affirmations on your socks,” she said.

“So that when you put them on in the morning, you read the affirmation and throughout the day, when you need to, you can think of that affirmation. Like ‘be proud of yourself’ keep that in mind for the day.”

The socks would be school-approved white on top but emotionally supportive underneath. Tanieka’s socks will be a way to share some of her ‘armour’ with others who may be feeling the same way she did.

In addition, a portion of the profits from each pair of socks goes to youth mental health service Headspace.

The idea was born in one of Tanieka’s classes at Springfield Central State High School. The curriculum was based on the Future Anything program. The program is about making a difference and puts Year 9 students in the driver’s seat of entrepreneurship; challenging young people to come up with their own innovative enterprise solutions to tackle some of the world’s greatest problems. Support is also being provided through the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce and Advancing Regional Innovation Program led by Ipswich City Council.

Tanieka recently won the Future Anything Grand Final 2018 beating 700 other innovative students nationwide securing almost $10, 000 in support and funding to launch her idea out of the classroom and into reality.

Teacher Chris Gauthier, has only just implemented the Enterprise subject last year and never imagined he would get this result so quickly.

“The school is proud to have someone like Tanieka who has gone out and shown everyone else at school what is possible,” Mr Gauthier said.

“It really ties in with our school principles of Resilience, Responsibility, Respect and Relationships. It’s not just about making money but also ‘doing good’ by the community and environment.”

Tanieka with the Shielded Socks support team at the Future Anything Grand Final 2018.

The next step for Tanieka is finish her exams. Then it is all systems go with mentoring lined up and sit-downs with other entrepreneurs to help her along each stage of getting her business up and running.

“I want to involve the kids with a competition to design the socks and the best two, chosen by kids, will be the socks we will make for our first orders,” she said.

If you or your school are interested in participating in the next Future Anything program contact Maria Baker from the Ipswich City Council led Advancing Regional Innovation Program.

Register for 2019 for a chance to be the next successful social enterprise founder.

Maria Baker – maria.baker@ipswich.qld.gov.au