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More than just dough

WaiCol SLC students win YES award for Excellence in Social Impact. PHOTO/MARY ARGUE

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The cookies are excellent, no question, but a regional award proves the team of Wairarapa students behind Aroha Cookies is just as exceptional.

Students from Wairarapa College’s Supported Learning Centre [SLC] have won a regional award for Excellence in Social Impact.

Aroha Cookies was launched by SLC students earlier this year as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme.

The sustainable cookie business with the tagline “we make them, you bake them” sold 200 jars of ready-to-bake products, doubling their initial goal.

Young Enterprise Wellington teaching mentor Yolande Rosario presented the award to the Aroha Cookies team in a ceremony at Wairarapa College on Monday.

Aroha Cookies had to compete across several categories – product validation, company pitch, sales, marketing and promotion, and deliver a 10-page annual report reviewed by New Zealand chartered accountants to win the regional award for Excellence in Social Impact.

Rosario congratulated the students on their achievements and said they should be proud.

She said the SLC had done very well and recognised the effort of students and teachers.

More than 4000 students across New Zealand participate annually in the Young Enterprise, which allows students to get a taste of start-up business while still in school.

“It is good to see alternative education flourish in this environment,” Rosario said.

“And the cookies taste amazing too. I was under strict instructions to bring some back if there were any left.”

Rosario said she hopes the team’s achievement this year would encourage more students to participate.

Aroha Cookies chief executive officer Sam Armour said he was proud to receive the award.

Wearing the company t-shirt, Armour congratulated each member of the nine-person team, shaking their hand and presenting a certificate.

The business not only paid dividends to their investors but generated over $1000 in profits.

All proceeds went to the Duke of Edinburgh [DoE] camp, which lowered the fee from $360 a student to $80.

Armour said he enjoyed the two days of nature exploration at Pukaha and among the rock pools in Riversdale, but his favourite DoE activity had been clay-bird shooting.

SLC teacher and assistant head of department Siouxsie Locke said the award had been a pleasant surprise.

She said Aroha Cookies had been a collaborative effort between staff and students, but the start-up was a credit to the whole community.

“We have amazing teacher aides and the parents brought their kids along to the markets every weekend. One day, it was minus three degrees.”

Locke said each team member put in a two-hour shift at the markets but recalled Armour, embodying the spirit of CEO, had once been there an entire day.

She said the business had now wrapped, and next year they would find a venture just as inclusive of the whole class.

They had been tossing around ideas of a first-aid grab and go kit, but the community would need to wait and see what success SLC delivered next.

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