A teenager from Afonwen is among a group of young entrepreneurs are launching a new range of eco-friendly products at a food festival.
The students from the Northop campus of Coleg Cambria will be selling fruit bowls made from vinyl LP records, herbs planted in empty food cans and coasters made from Scrabble tiles at Llangollen Food Festival on Saturday and Sunday, October 19 and 20.
The team, who have additional learning needs, won a competition organised by the festival for students on Independent Living Skills (ILS) to win a stall at the popular annual event, along with a cash prize of £50.
ILS tutor and lecturer Helen Young says the group will sell products made during their ILS workskills, crafts and enterprise sessions.
She said: “We are making coasters from Scrabble tiles, fruit bowls from vinyl LP records and miniature herb pots for the kitchen using empty food tins.
“These products are useful, practical and will raise environmental awareness as some material will be up-cycled.
“Our USP (unique selling point) is that these products have been made by learners with additional needs. The products have motivated learners to use skills linked to the world of work.
“This means each and every item has been created and uniquely crafted from start to finish and each finished item can be viewed as a real achievement for the individual learner who made it”.
She added: “All the learners have already succeeded as producing these products is a huge achievement for them. Our three products are practical, useful and on trend.
“Our ideas for our products will make money, as the records have been donated for free so all monies from sales will be profit. The price of the coasters will cover production costs and make a small profit.
“We will use the £50 prize to purchase the materials we need to make the coasters as well as buying the seeds we need to make out herb pots.”
Helen hopes company bosses will see the potential of her ILS students and realise they are employable.
She said: “Too many employers seem to believe that ILS students can’t do a job and that they are basically unemployable. It’s our mission here at Coleg Cambria to show that our students are employable and are capable.
“We can and will use Llangollen Food Festival as a platform to demonstrate that our students can come up with good ideas and produce goods that are desirable as those sold by independent traders. I’d love to see some of our learners go onto form their own businesses, why not?”
ILS student Mark Poland, 22, of Mold, says the ideas they have come up with for their three products are amazing.
He said: “I’m looking forward to the food festival. I’ve worked with Helen before on enterprise stalls and really enjoyed it. I’m really looking forward to making the coasters, it’s a good idea but they are quite hard to make.”
Ariana Harkin, 16, of Afonwen, who has just started at her studies at Coleg Cambria, said: “Coleg Cambria is very different to school. I was at Mold Alun High School and I’ve only just started at the college.
“Making the fruit bowls will be good. We need to heat the records in an oven and then when they are soft making them into a bowl shape.”
Former Buckley Elfed High School pupil Mia Hughes, 16, added: “I’m really looking forward to getting involved and making the coasters. We need to stick them all together using a hot glue gun.”
Holywell student Jake Davies, 19, and fellow student Rosie Parry, 16, of Buckley say they are both looking forward to making the herb pots.
Jake said: “I like doing practical things it’s better than writing and stuff like that. I enjoy making things and seeing how they come out.”
Rosie added: “It’s really good to start with an empty tin can and a few seeds make something useful. I’m really looking forward to everything.”
Lydia Whiting, 19, of Chester and Henry Hibert-Jones, 20, of Port Sunlight but say they are looking forward to making fruit bowls out of vinyl LP’s.
“Henry said: “It’s important to balance the LP on a mug in the oven, it won’t work if you lay them flat. It’s going to be quite good to see the end product.”
Lydia added: “I like doing practical things and making things that are useful. The food festival will be really good.”
According to Llangollen Food Festival committee member Phil Davies, the event is the perfect platform for Coleg Cambria’s ILS students to exhibit and sell their products.
He said: “I’m delighted they won our competition and I look forward to seeing their finished products which I’m sure will prove popular with festival visitors.
“It’s important Llangollen Food Festival welcomes groups such as Coleg Cambria’s ILS students to exhibit their products alongside our other exhibitors.
“We want to give these students the opportunity to shine and to show they are not only perfectly capable of coming up with great ideas but that they can produce quality products too.”