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Smoothies On The Go blends fun and learning to help students grow

Students make smoothies at Gilles-SweetNovember 16, 2022


Thanks to Smoothies On The Go, some pretty sweet lessons are being taught to students. 

Smoothies On The Go is a weekly program and student business that creates delicious frozen smoothies at Gilles-Sweet Elementary. Now in its fifth year, the program continues to grow while teaching students important lessons through a hands-on, engaging learning experience.

“I always wanted to start a student-run business with my class to get them more into using the skills that we are teaching in classroom,” Kerry Sheldon, an intervention specialist at Gilles-Sweet expressed. “In the future, they’re going to have jobs. Smoothies on the Go is helping with their future employment and getting them ready for what’s expected when you have a job.”

Each Friday, members of the Smoothies On The Go crew meet in the staff lounge to prepare their orders. They set up individual stations, review the smoothie recipes, measure their ingredients, create all the orders, work as a team, and wash, dry, and put away what they have used. Once completed, the crew then hand-delivers the smoothies to their customers in the building.

“The business is also helping with their communication skills,” Sheldon explained. “A lot of the students them are quiet, so this really brings them out of their comfort zone. They tell their customers, ‘Happy Friday’ and ‘Enjoy your smoothie.’ And delivery is their favorite part.”

Staff can purchase a smoothie for $2. Gilles-Sweet students can also purchase a smoothie as a reward from the Warrior Warehouse. Last year, the Smoothies On The Go crew made approximately 575 smoothies.

“It encompasses a lot of skills, we make the smoothies once a week, and they’re always super excited for Fridays,” Sheldon added. “It’s nice because everyone has some type of job with the business. You can make it work with any student with any disability. Anyone can have a job for our business.”

Smoothies On The Go isn’t just all work and no play. The crew earns special quarterly paydays where they earn a Mcdonald's lunch or a trip to Dollar Tree.  At the end of the year they take a special field trip to Five Below for their last payday and time to enjoy lunch together in the park. 

Students also learn about giving back. For example, profits from Smoothies On The Go have purchased books for the library at Gilles-Sweet and food items for the Fairview Park Hunger Center.

“We sit down as a group and figure out how much money we have at the end of the year,” Sheldon said. “Then we see how much we can buy in products for the food pantry. The students shop, and then we go deliver them. They get to see why we do this and see why it’s important to give back to our community.”

Through this unique program, Sheldon has seen these students become more confident each week.

“The nice thing is we’ve seen how much they’ve grown and how they enjoy it,” Sheldon added. “There’s a lot of learning, and they don’t even know it. Look at all the skills we get into the 45 or 50 minutes when we’re making and delivering smoothies. And it’s for all; everyone has a hand in it.”