Academy of FUN! is no ordinary business. Formed 3 years ago by Kate Badger, it became a Community Interest Company and a fully fledged social enterprise in October 2017.
Having trained as a concert pianist with the Royal Northern College of Music, specialising in performing new works by contemporary composers and workshops for children, followed by a role at LEGOland, Kate knew her career path would involve helping people.
Kate says ”I loved my job at LEGOland but not so much my work conditions. I felt that the whole point of LEGO was somehow being diluted. I was a reluctant entrepreneur as I didn’t really want to be responsible for a whole business but the job that I wanted didn’t exist so I had to create it!
I have two amazing nieces and two amazing nephews and it’s the relationships I’ve developed with them that shape my ethos in the way I plan for Academy of FUN!”
So what is Academy of FUN! all about? Well, currently the statistics for developing a mental health condition in this country are 1 in 4.
Academy of FUN! is on a mission to improve those odds for the next generation. They do this through their work with 4 - 11 year olds, providing fun and engaging activities that promote a lifestyle proven to reduce the risk of developing a mental health condition.
Events are jam packed with secret learning. Their themes including superhero adventures, bake-offs, crazy sports and building awesome things from LEGO.
Kate’s ethos on play is evident throughout all the events, “I believe in providing experiences that will inspire and enrich the lives of the children we work with. I hope that the positive engagement in the activities we offer will have lasting effects by creating happy memories and introducing them to meaningful activities that they can continue to pursue and enjoy.”
Undertaking commercial engagements helps to subsidise the work they do in the communities that need them the most. The last year has been one of growth with attendance on high profile commercial events such as the British Grand Prix opening up a wide variety of opportunities for the business.
So how does a reluctant entrepreneur react to being awarded the BQ North West Emerging Entrepreneur award? She takes it all in her stride! “I’m constantly surprised that what we are doing is considered new. It feels so natural to me but I get a lot of “never would have thought of that” reactions.”
With a busy summer ahead, Kate’s focus remains on working towards a long term sustainable service, developing a commercially-strong business that can meet the social needs, scaling the model to reach more children.
The majority of work delivered currently is through a network of venues. The next step will be to develop a new Academy of FUN! centre. Academy of FUN! is growing. As Kate says, “I don’t think I could stop it even if I wanted to; fun is infectious!”
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