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Teaching children about money: A MLK Day of Service project
Sheena Qualles-De Freece
BY FRANK DROUZAS, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG – You’re never too young to learn about money, believes Sheena Qualles-De Freece, founder of Kidzonomics®, LLC, a program that teaches young children about economics.
Kidzonomics® is one of 58 organizations participating in St. Pete’s 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service next month, which is a way to transform Dr. King’s life and teachings into community service that helps empower and strengthen local communities.
Qualles-De Freece, who has a 25-year background in banking and finance, said that she has noted over the years that some people aren’t as astute as they could be regarding their financial literacy. She spent 13 years as a language arts and social studies teacher in New Jersey, where Kidzonomics® was originated.
In Florida for only two years now after retiring up north, Qualles-De Freece teaches youth groups about financial literacy concepts through lectures, workshops and personalized lesson plans. She focuses mostly on elementary school-aged kids.
“My philosophy is that as soon as a child puts their hand out–whether they’re two, three or even one–they understand the value of money,” she said. “And that money has purchasing power or can satisfy their needs and so, therefore, we need to help them understand what money can do for them or can’t do for them.”
Qualles-De Freece noted that often students don’t learn about financial literacy until middle school or even high school.
“However, children already know that money means something to them as far as purchasing things,” she said. “So I just want to teach them more about that so that they can become successful adults.”
For the 2018 MLK Day of Service, Qualles-De Freece explained that Kidzonomics®, along with many supporters, will provide “educational outreach activities that address the socioeconomic factors of poverty.”
The MLK grant will make it possible for Kidzonomics® to distribute 300 free financial literacy books for children ages 5-17 years old at various locations. Qualles-De Freece will be at Reader’s Choice Books, 4341 34th St. S, on Jan. 6, 2018, from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. There will be a financial literacy workshop and games that teach the children what a co-op business is.
On Jan. 13 at 10 a.m., Kidzonomics® along with Florida Cooperative Empowered economic Development (CEED) and Sue Dickson’s “Songs That Teach,” will be at Pinellas Technical College, 901 34th St. S. Finally, on Jan. 14, she will be at Cultured Books, 833 22nd St. S. Contact Cultured Books at (727) 328-4822 for details.
Supporters of the Kidzonomics® events include Coughlan Companies Community Fund, Florida CEED, Pinellas Technical College, Sue Dickson, First Unity Spiritual Campus, Universal Music Day and Ford Christian Academy. The League of Women Voters, Sustainable Urban Agriculture Coalition, St. Pete Time Bank, South St. Petersburg Democratic Club are among the volunteers that’ll be pitching in for the events.
In the future, Qualles-De Freece plans to do a financial story hour at Reader’s Choice Books. As she stoutly believes: “Eradication of poverty commences with financial literacy education for all children.”