The magic of JA BizTown

JA BizTown is magical.

After six years working here, I still cannot put my finger on where ‘the spell’ comes from.  I thought for the longest time that the magic lived in the Maplewood facility. I’ve been proven wrong.

I think the magic resides in the power of play.

We are all born with this innate yearning to make believe. To pretend. To try on a new identity. To ‘fake it until we make it’.  To put on costumes of the brain, until we figure it all out.

We are born wanting to play…until we are forced to grow up.

This email was sent this week to our general inbox and I cannot stop thinking about it.

Hello – My name is Susie Smith and I am in tenth grade. My friends and I all have extremely fond memories of JA BizTown from when we went in fourth grade. We were wondering if there was any chance you would let a group of 40 tenth graders do JA BizTown again just for the nostalgia factor before we grow up too much? Please let me know. Thank you!

Magical, right?!

After talking with my team, I’ll reach out to see if these high schoolers would like to mentor a new generation of JA BizTown kids – as volunteers. 

And yes…I’d also set them up with checkbooks and debit cards so they can go shopping….and play to learn. Except they would be learning a new set of skills through play.  Because as Susie said, they aren’t quite adults yet.

Tomorrow we welcome our first group of BizTown students for the school year. I’m going to be thinking about this tomorrow, knowing that in 2025, there will be a group of high school sophomores remembering their day at JA BizTown, when they were being mentored by people like Susie and her classmates. Magical. Impactful.

Never underestimate the power of play….or magic…or JA.

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