Disengaged Teen to Young Entrepreneur.

creativity lights on® passion-led learning real-world learning Nov 20, 2020

Meet Lisa, one tired, frustrated mum who transformed into an inspiring parent educator and empowered her bored, disengaged teenager into a young entrepreneur with a passion for business at the age of 14.


“My son was at rock bottom with mental health issues. To see him now confident, comfortable in his skin, loving life and running his stall at a local hospital raising awareness of children’s mental health is amazing.”


James was struggling in school and Lisa felt desperate. As a single working parent she felt she had no choice but to leave him in school. However, our children’s mental wellbeing must come first. With the support of Julia Black, founder of the Lights On® Academy, Lisa summoned the courage to have a meeting with the school about her son’s mental health, which she knew was suffering. Lisa could see they were not listening. In that moment, she realized they were never going to meet his needs. They couldn’t see James for who he was. He had just become a 'problem' for them to deal with daily.

Lisa was clear on the action she needed to take and spoke honestly with her manager at work, explaining the need to flex her working day because her son needed to come out of school.

“Once Lisa decides on something, she takes action fast,” Julia recalls. “Having been in our Academy for several months resisting action, suddenly it was all change. She realized she had to be the one to take responsibility for James' education. No-one else was going to.”

Julia met James on a zoom call and asked him that all important question; “Do you want to learn?” Of course, like most children and teens, he said, “Yes!” He was desperate to learn but didn’t know how.

He was clearly entrepreneurial, so he enrolled on Julia’s Youthpreneur programme and quickly found confidence in his natural sales ability. This was a completely different experience to what he had felt at school where he was failing daily.

“James started to feel better about himself,” says Lisa. “He learnt to work around his difficulties and play to his strengths. He swiftly began turning ideas into reality.”

One of James’ ideas became a real-world project with Lisa’s facilitation. Home Eddie the Teddy promotes awareness of children’s mental health whilst raising money for the local children’s hospital.

James went through the whole process of setting up his business, meeting people like the Head of Fundraising at the local Hospital Trust who was blown away by James and his idea. Home Eddie the Teddy has his own website: www.homeeddie.co.uk and his own Facebook page.

James was now taking ownership of his learning. “Before, it felt like prison. I didn’t believe I was going to reach any of my goals. Now it feels like I can get to where I want to be. Now I can be myself.”

Being oneself is all any child or teen wants. As a result, James got recognition. He was a finalist for the local Lord Lieutenant’s Award: Young Braveheart of the Year and joint winner of the Hero Next Door Award 2020.

As his proud Mum, Lisa has been inspired by James and by her own learning and development through the Lights On® coaching programs. She set her mind to completing and publishing her children’s storybook “The Lost Star” which was recently released for purchase.

“I am so happy with how things are going now. Thanks to Lights On®, James and I both have the confidence and mindset to live our lives to our fullest potential with our lights blazing bright.”

Changing the story for disengaged learners like James is what Julia Black’s Lights On® framework is all about. “James has achieved so much in a short space of time. To me, he represents just how wrong we sometimes get it in school. James wanted to learn, but the teachers couldn't see it or help him access what he is capable of achieving. Inside every teenager like James lies something brilliant waiting to emerge. It is our job to ensure they are given the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Lisa and James’ story offers hope to all families who feel disempowered, who think there is nothing they can do. When parents are determined to make changes to prioritize their child's mental health, anything becomes possible. It is a simple choice. If your child’s lights are off, do you want them back on? And are you ready to take action? 

To learn more about James and Home Eddie the Teddy, check out the website where you can also purchase Lisa’s book whilst supporting Leicester Children’s Hospital. www.homeeddie.co.uk


Alice Khimasia
Seeing her eldest son's lights go out when he was 7, Alice took action to ensure his freedom to learn. She has been speaking and writing about her family's learning adventures ever since and gave a TEDx talk in 2016. Alice is part of our Lights On® Academy and lives with her husband and 4 Lights On® Learners in the West Midlands.




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