Enactus OC’s CANsave program celebrates remarkable reach, new financial literacy resources for youth with diverse needs

By Public Affairs | March 9, 2021

Business Student Danielle Walker
Business Student Danielle Walker with her son

Okanagan College’s Enactus team is marking a memorable milestone this month, having mentored more than 50,000 Canadian children through its CANsave financial literacy program – and the program’s latest focus may be its most inspiring yet.

Developed entirely by Okanagan College students, CANsave teaches youth important financial literacy skills like saving for tomorrow, differences between good and bad debt, and the importance of saving to help others in need. 

CANsave launched in 2016 with a focus on teaching students in Grades 1 and 2 financial literacy skills and in the intervening years has grown to include students in Grades 3-6.

Along the way, the program has picked up its share of accolades and awards – along with extensive kudos from educators and school districts near and far.

One of those educators singing the praises of the program is Kelsey Dawson, a Grade 3 teacher at Anne McClymont Elementary.

“The CANsave program has been one of the most impactful resources in my primary math program,” says Dawson. “It has taught my Grade 3 students real-life financial skills that will benefit them as they grow, and has done so in a very engaging way. I am so thankful to have this resource to help teach our redesigned BC curriculum. Our students and parents have loved it every year”

In 2019, OC’s CANsave team earned a first-place finish for its presentation about the program at Enactus National Exhibition, besting students from top business schools across Canada. The team has notched numerous other podium finishes at local, regional and national Enactus exhibitions over the past five years.

Okanagan College Business Professor Devin Rubadeau has been a Faculty Advisor to the scores of Enactus students who have had a hand in the program since its inception.

“What makes the program so successful and distinctive is its approach to immersing students in a simulated economy,” says Rubadeau. “Students in the program are enabled to learn from and see the consequences of various financial choices; they’re allowed to make good and bad financial decisions in other words. Poor choices result in debt, and an inability to purchase goodies post program. Students also complete workbooks as they go, helping them to chart their learning.”

Rubadeau believes CANsave has been just as beneficial for OC students as for the now tens of thousands of youth who have benefitted from the program.

“This program has offered many of our students a chance to lead, a chance to mentor and apply their financial education and skills to youth. It’s given them a chance to share their accomplishments with the program on the national stage through various high-level competitions. CANsave has been a hugely beneficial learning experience for many, and we look forward to watching how the program continues to grow and evolve.”

Recently, the program has evolved in an inspiring and timely new direction under the leadership of its newest student lead, Danielle Walker. 

Mother to a child with autism, Walker recognized that there were few support systems in place to teach financial literacy to children with special and diverse learning needs.

“Being able to use the knowledge I have gained as an accounting student at OC, to give back to Canadian children and provide them with vital life skills has been a true honour,” says Walker. “I am a big believer in experiential learning; the CANsave program is a great way to teach important financial lessons and it is a lot of fun!”

As with past CANsave creations, Walker’s newest program, CANsave for Unique Learners, is available for teachers and parents to download for free from www.cansaveoc.ca. All resources are free, including curriculum, lesson plans, and student workbooks. And like other CANsave offerings, all resources have been tested and reviewed by local teachers – this includes CANsave for Intermediate Students, also created by Walker in the past year.

“Danielle has had an immense, positive impact on the CANsave program, and consequently financial literacy opportunities for children across the country. By continuing to add resources to our free site, Danielle is demonstrating that Okanagan College students are committed to seeing the next generation of Canadian’s grow with the financial literacy skills they need to succeed,” adds Rubadeau. 

Rubadeau also notes that CANsave continues to be popular nationally, with teachers now utilizing the CANsave materials in every province and territory in the country.

Adds Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton: “We are so proud of the students who have contributed to CANsave and the many other Enactus projects over the years. These projects have such a positive impact in communities locally and across the country. The CANsave program’s latest milestone and its continued growth and success adds yet another chapter to this impressive cumulative impact.”

For more information and free financial literacy resources for children, visit www.cansaveoc.ca

Tags: Okanagan School of Business, CANSave, Enactus, Inside OC



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