When we put up a post about recycled neckties Time to “tie” one on!, we didn’t know about Michelle Beaudin and her students. Only afterwards did we discover their amazing project… In their hands, old ties, buttons and zippers become much more than accessories: they become the basis of an initiative that promotes entrepreneurship and increases the confidence and motivation of young people with severe learning difficulties. We instantly fell in love with the concept, and we thought our readers would be interested to hear their story.
Michelle Beaudin teaches at the Clotilde-Raymond school in Saint-Rémi. Her students are between 9 and 12. “Four years and a half ago, they started RecyVermico Express, a company making recycled products. Fifteen students work to transform ties into handbags, wine bottle bags and more. Last year we recycled almost 1,250 ties and just as many buttons!”
The proceeds are used to purchase educational software tailored to the special needs of students, educational games and adapted computer hardware.
In the classroom, traditional math exercises are replaced by activities related to the business: calculation of raw materials, production forecasts and billing, among others. These exercises facilitate learning for a majority of students. “Every year, we write a song about the environment, and also brochures, application to various competitions, responses to medias and customers, which all help to improve language skills,” said Ms. Beaudin, known as “Madame Michelle” to her students.
She believes that the project’s positive impact on students is huge, on both the academic and personal level. “I can see in their eyes how proud they are when they see their creations featured on the company Facebook page. And also when they receive congratulations from visitors at our different booths. Most of their products sell like hot cakes!
Some students, once serial playground offenders, manage their time better and learned to cooperate. They have developed a strong entrepreneurial spirit and devote themselves 100% to the team. Even at night, on weekends and during school holidays!
“In 2012, we won the Québec Entrepreneurship Contest at the provincial level in the Elementary Cycle 2 category—and there’s no category for special education!
Michelle told us that at these awards ceremonies, she and her young protégés felt small alongside recognized leaders in the field of sustainable development, citing Cascades as an example. But considering the humble beginnings of our company, we can say without false modesty that they absolutely deserve to stand with us. After all, success is measured by beliefs, not prestige.
How you can help
We will be collecting buttons and ties for RecyVermico Express during the next Semaine québécoise de réduction des déchets. If you’d like to support them, you can send your unused ties, buttons, thread and zippers to the following address:
c/o RecyVermico Express
95 Saint-André Street
Their initiative, which not only helps kids stay in school, but also promotes entrepreneurship and environmental consciousness, gets an A+. They’ve found a place in our hearts.