Kids Biz in a Box Camp helps kids think like entrepreneurs

By Mia Thomas

Planning a budget, balancing a checkbook, developing a business idea and a marketing plan…is that what you did on your summer vacation when you were a kid? What if you had?

Waco get ready! Road to Damascus, Inc. (a local non-profit) and Mommy & Me Dream Bigger Tour have teamed up to bring Kidz Biz in a Box Summer Camp 2018 to the Waco area.

The focus of this camp is to teach kids about life and interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, basic money and budgeting concepts, and entrepreneurship.  By the end of the week-long camp the kids will learn the fundamental skills to start their first business.  The program is built around a structured curriculum,that will introduce camp participants to various business concepts. Each camp week will conclude with a tour to a local bank. Campers will be able to meet the tellers, step inside the vault, and open their very own kid’s savings account. The teaching is invaluable as they will learn the value of money, planning a budget, creating an investment, how to balance a checkbook, and the difference between saving and spending.

Camp breakout sessions will be led by local Waco entrepreneurs in the areas of Marketing, Branding and Business Start-ups. Every child that attends Kidz Biz in a Box Summer camp will gain a clear understanding on how to develop a business idea/or concept, market their plan and establish relationships with other businesses and organizations throughout the community.  In addition campers will build their logo, website, and have their very own business cards.  Each kid will walk away with a business plan that will help them to continue to grow their business.

The idea for “Kidz Biz” summer camp was conceived by “Mompreneur” Sherrie Walton, who has spent the last 3 years traveling and teaching kids how to start their businesses.  She took adult concepts about entrepreneurship and broke them down in a way a child could understand it.  She first started with her own 7 and 10 years old children:”Kidpreneurs” Kai-Milan Walton ( CEO of Kai’s Cupcakes) and Christopher Walton II (CEO of CJ Speaks).

10-year old Chris Walton is a motivational speaker and is currently working on completing his first book that will launch in 2018.  The brother and sister duo from Houston will be teaching a class at the camp, showing children how simple business can be with the right knowledge and how to be fearless and tap into their dreams at a young age.

The camp will wrap up on July 13, 2018 with a showcase and awards ceremony program. This ceremony will be open to parents, relatives, friends, and City Officials honoring all camp participants who have completed Kidz Biz in a Box. The children will present their finished business plan and be awarded certificates.

There will be ongoing support for the Kidpreneurs after the camp has ended as well.  In the Fall (September 15, 2018), Kidz Biz in a Box will host its 1st Annual Kidpreneurs Fall Expo for Central Texas Kidpreneurs.  The expo will include a business pitch contest for children, the opportunity to market and sell their product, and to learn how to network with other kidpreneurs by building positive relationships.   Families will be able to have a fun filled day full of various family activities.

Road to Damascus, Inc. is the lead Waco organization, supporting the initiative and working to  create awareness about the program. But, we are quick to emphasize that with any successful project, it takes a team of committed, like-minded, and driven people to see it to completion.  We are excited for the opportunity to collaborate with community partners, such as Family of Faith Worship Center, Independent Bank, and the Centex African American Chamber of Commerce.  As a nonprofit organization, we understand the importance of helping future leaders to be successful.  Our passion is to teach families and children the importance of building legacies and truly tapping into their dreams. Kidpreneurs have become the new wave, they are our future.


If you would like to be a part of this initiative and sponsor a child, make a donation, or have your organization represented at Kidz Biz in a Box, please feel free to contact me at (505) 402-0199 or email  

For any adult that would like to register a child, please go to

This unique business camp for kids ages 6-13 will be held at Family of Faith Worship Center, located at 4112 Memorial Drive, Waco, Texas on June 11-15; June 18-22; June 25-29; and July 9-13. The camp will be held for children ages 6-13. The hours will be Monday through Friday from 7:30am-5:30pm.  The cost of the business camp is $199.00 per child and includes 2 daily meals, camp supplies and camp t-shirt.

Mia Thomas is an Author, Certified Life Coach, Empowerment Speaker, and Entrepreneur. She is the CEO/Founder of Road to Damascus, Inc., a non-profit organization that connects at-risk children and families to various resource throughout Central Texas. She is the mother of three gifted and talented adult children, Mara, Tyrell, and Vincent Jr. Thomas. She has two beautiful grandchildren, Masen Alexander Waggoner, age 2, and Jadience Thomas, age 1.  They are her heart and joy.  To get more information or to reach out to Mia, you can contact her at or




Placemaking in Waco – Part 1

By Luann Jennings

Think about your favorite place and imagine you’re there. Although this place may have special smells or sounds, the odds are good that the first thing you thought about was how your favorite place looks. After all, you were using your “image-ination.”

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a non-profit that helps communities create great places. One of the features PPS looks at in a great place is Comfort & Image, including whether it is safe, clean, green, walkable, sittable, spiritual, charming, attractive, and/or historic. How many of those words describe your favorite place?

How it looks probably isn’t the main thing, though, that made it a favorite place for you. My favorite place is the sanctuary of a church I attended before moving to Waco. It is safe, clean, sittable, spiritual, attractive, and historic; but so are a lot of other churches I’ve been inside. My experiences there, combined with how the space looked, felt, and worked, made it my favorite place. This is why PPS’ other three criteria for a great place are Sociability, Uses & Activities, and Access & Linkages. You can find more information and a graphic here.

PPS developed the concept and practice of “placemaking,” which is “strengthening the connection between people and the places they share.” Waco is doing a lot of placemaking work right now, particularly in the downtown area. The 2010 “Imagine Waco” development plan describes a vision of a downtown that would be an “attractive and convenient place” with “comfortable and inviting” streets that would also create opportunities for people to socialize, promote activities, and be easily accessible.

Another side of placemaking is “creative placemaking,” or “projects in which art plays an intentional and integrated role in place-based community planning and development.” Creative Waco, our local arts agency, has several creative placemaking projects going on, including a Sculpture Zoo and a mural project. Learn more about creative placemaking here.

Some people think of placemaking as just the job of planners, architects, and designers, but PPS emphasizes that, “As both an overarching idea and a hands-on approach for improving a neighborhood, city, or region, Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community.” (emphasis added)

The Imagine Waco plan also envisioned “seamless connections between East and West Waco” and an East Waco that is “alive with historical, cultural and arts facilities, farmers markets, art shows, mixed-use housing and retail and restaurant destinations.” East Waco’s Elm Avenue will soon be the site of a new placemaking project that has started out by seeking input from the community. Tami Nutall Jefferson will tell you all about it in our next post: Placemaking in Waco – Part 2!

Luann Jennings works part-time for Creative Waco and in various other arts-related project. She also started InSite, a creative placemaking project that produced two plays this past winter at sites around Waco. She moved to Waco two years ago from New York City to be part of all of the exciting things going on here in the arts!

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.


Trails and Trials: Race your way to motivation

(This post is a part of a regular series “Trails & Trials,” a monthly adventure series inspiring others to experience the physical, mental, and social benefits of cycling, running or swimming in Central Texas. For more posts in this series, click here: Trails and Trials.  – ALW)

By Natasha van der Merwe

“How are you doing with those New Year’s Resolutions?”

“How is that training coming along?”

Sound familiar? You may have heard the words “The Race is the Reward for all your hard work in training”. Others may say “Races prove resolutions.” Both are true, but there are many reasons to enter local races, regularly and quite often.

In April, I was invited to run the First Responders Half Marathon, and jumped at the chance. Apart from the fact that the course appealed to me because it would be a sneak peak of the run course for the upcoming TriWaco and Waco 70.3, I really just wanted to race.

Triathlon season typically runs from April through November in the US, due to the fact that the water temperature needs to be warm enough to swim. It had been many weeks of focused training, without the reward of a race or the opportunity to truly test my fitness in a way that no training session really could. That and I really wanted and needed to rejuvenate my motivation to train.

Well, that it did, and so much more.

Here are my top FIVE reasons I enter local races and you should too:

1. Racing forces me to set up a training schedule.

Having a set training calendar, gives me a plan and purpose for every workout. This gives me the daily motivation I need to get the work done. The argument of why triathlon is such a fantastic sport to train for, is that every day is totally different. Triathletes train for three different disciplines. The cross training impact is so much easier on the body, since the long run day is balanced with a swim the following day, which serves as the perfect recovery workout before biking and running again the day after that.

2. Racing tests my fitness both physically and mentally.

There is nothing quite like a race to show me exactly where my fitness lies. No matter how physically prepared I am, a race may expose that I still may be lacking in the mental preparation which can only be learned through race experiences. Racing also gives me insight into where my training discipline might have lacked in the build up. To me, every race is a new lesson in how well my training is actually working and I always spend a lot of time reflecting post race on how I can better prepare myself for the next one.

3. Racing presents opportunities to push myself beyond what I could possibly experience in training

Be it a course I have never seen before, elevation higher than I’ve ever climbed, heat that I may have not been prepared for, or a time goal that I want to hit, racing always presents me with new challenges that I happily embrace. I don’t believe one can grow in the comfort zone. I will not hesitate to sign up for a “hard” race in order to push myself past what I know I can already do. Participating in a race, gives me the opportunity to push harder and get tougher. With each race comes a new challenge.

4. Racing is FUN!

In every race I participate in, I always make a conscious effort to have a big smile on my face for every race photo. Why? Because racing is always a challenge, but should always be fun! There is no better and bigger endorphin rush than pushing yourself in a race. It will bring you a lot of satisfaction and joy, together with the attitude of gratitude. Every day you get to race and use the body God gave you, is going to be a great day!

5. Racing earns a celebration of food and drink.

I am extremely structured in my daily life with my training and my food. I have to make sure that I am eating cleanly, to feel good and recover well for my training sessions so I can be ready to train again the next day. However, after a big race I will be the first in line for a large burger and fries. I feel that this post race celebration is definitely needed to acknowledge the accomplishment of what I have just done and gives me a chance to celebrate with my family who have supported me through the training. It also forces me to have that much needed rest before focusing on the next race.

Let the celebration of life, challenges and friendships entice you to sign up for the next local running race or triathlon. It’s time to put on the trainers and “Just Do it!”. You won’t regret it.

Find local races at:

Natasha van der Merwe is originally from South Africa. She is mom to a 19-month old girl, former professional tennis player and tennis instructor, and a professional triathlete representing Bicycle World and Waco Running Company.  She has multiple top 10 finishes in Ironman and 70.3 events around the world. She is Director of Team Programs for Bicycle World, Texas

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.