Leadership & Ice Cream: An Inspired Social Innovation

Leadership: taking responsibility for the condition of the environment in which you find yourself, and doing something about it.

Traditionally, the definition of leadership has aligned itself with a vertical business model supporting powerful people possessing ‘leadership’ traits that enabled them to reach the top of their organization. One leader with many followers. However, the shift in business from a vertical structure to more horizontal orientation has led to a broader playing field with greater opportunity for individuals to exert influence and create champions for their brand,  issue or cause.

If leadership is being aware of the world around you, and taking the initiative to address the issues,  then the real winner in this movement is social innovation.
The love of ice cream leads the way

Social innovation involves tackling challenges with novel solutions that benefit society as a whole,  and what could be more novel than a youth-run, staff-led ice cream parlour in a community where jobs for young people are hard to come by.

Summer is the prime-earning season for most young people,  and the situation is no different in Beaverton,  Ontario,  a village resting on the shores of Lake Simcoe. Summer is also prime ice cream season and the creativity and initiative of staff at the Brock Youth Centre led to the grand opening of the Ice Cream Parlour just in time to cool the sweet tooth of visiting beach lovers.

It takes a village to raise a child

Negotiating possession of an available shop on the main street through town,  the Brock Youth Centre staff and three teens began renovations that transformed the store from a dull empty space to a parlour that vibrated with life. Local business owners donated ice cream coolers and equipment from a business they were closing down,  the local hardware store donated paint, and numerous craftsmen shared their skills. Staff-led,  youth-run,  village-supported,  with start-up funding from various sources, the project met all targets and opened for business on June 4.

Now the team is ready for the summer. The youth are totally immersed in a hands-on education in entrepreneurship 101,  the community came out in droves to sample the delicious Kawartha Dairy ice cream on opening day, and visitors will definitely be drawn to the Cool Cow Ice cream Parlour.

Leadership: taking responsibility for the scarcity of summer jobs for local youth and doing something about it.

Hats off to staff at the Youth Brock Centre. Many thanks to the funders and local businesses for supporting the initiative. Good luck to the young entrepreneurs and Beavertonians,  enjoy the ice cream. If you happen to be anywhere near Beaverton this summer,  stop in at the Cool Cow Ice Cream Parlour and support youth entrepreneurship. You’ll be glad you did.


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