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CareerTEC's "Mall of Life"

"CareerTEC's "Mall of Life"


FREEPORT — Twelve-year-old Mostafa Alamidi of Freeport is a video game developer.
Well, maybe not in real life, but the seventh grader played the role of one Wednesday while learning some of the responsibilities of adulthood. CareerTEC’s “Mall of Life” event offered more than 500 middle school students role playing experience on budgeting and being in the workforce.
“I learned that it’s hard trying to pay for bills and stuff,” Alamidi said. “I never knew there were that many bills.”
Carol Luning, career awareness event coordinator for CareerTEC, hopes students come away from the experience with a better idea of how budgeting and communication work in adulthood.
Renting a home, paying utilities and making a car payment on his new Ford Focus are just some obstacles that students such as Alamidi faced during the workshop.
“They randomly draw cards that decide their situation,” Luning said. “They pick their jobs but it is randomly decided if they have kids, are divorced, single, or married. It’s all the average normal things of daily life that adults go through every day.”

Wee Care Daycare
Sixth and seventh grade students from Freeport Middle School, Carl Sandburg, Aquin, Pecatonica, Orangeville, Dakota, Durand and Pearl City are all participating in the event this year. They chose their “jobs” prior to the event and were then given a salary and a list of expenses. They must then navigate through 13 stations to deal with responsibilities such as clothing, doctor’s visits, groceries, pets, insurance, entertainment and day care.
“We want to give the students a taste of career awareness and financial literacy,” said Jennifer Newendyke, system director of CareerTEC, which is a partnership program that works directly with area high schools. “As adults they need to be able to prioritize purchases and realize that you have a set amount and you have to know what you can spend. A little of it too is practicing math and communication skills.”
The “Mall of Life” event ended Friday, Nov. 22nd. Luning said the workshop has been held for almost two decades and is targeted towards students ages 12 to 14 because it is important to teach them about adulthood before high school since many begin taking classes that prepare them for college at that point.

Homes 'R' US
“We always hold an evaluation after the event with teachers and volunteers who come to help us,” Luning said. “We really appreciate the feedback. We are told by 99.5 percent of them that it’s a very worthwhile event.”
CareerTEC is a program that coordinates workforce programs with area students. To accomplish CareerTEC’s goals, a team of business and community members, parents and educators work together to prepare students for the real world in a chosen field.
“All of our consortium schools are coming out this year,” Luning said. “We get resources from the state to be able to hold the event each year.”
Fifth Third Bank donated the check registers for students to use during the workshop. Community volunteers and CareerTEC students involved in the program also volunteered their time for “Mall of Life.”

By Nick Crow
The Journal-Standard
Posted Nov. 20, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

CareerTEC would like to thank all the volunteers that came out to help this year. Without them the event would never be able to take place. THANKS AGAIN!