Kai Kennedy believes anything is possible.
The 16-year-old moved around growing up due to their parent’s work. Kai had lived in Melbourne, Hamilton, and Greater Manchester in Northern England, before returning to Australia four years ago to live in Ringwood and Torquay. Kai’s family, including their much-loved Old English Sheepdog, Missy, is now settled in Ballarat.
Diagnosed with depression and anxiety, Kai, who has autism, looked for ways to make money during the first lockdown in 2020 when boredom set it.
After a chat with their mum, Kai landed on the idea of making jewellery, something their mum had done as a teenager.
Kai finds the crafting of jewellery relaxing for the mind and hands, taking away some negative feelings and nurturing their mental health.
“Jewellery is a special interest that keeps my hands and mind occupied during these times.”
“I made some jewellery and started selling before I had even made three pairs of earrings.”
Kai has made more than 630 sales online and plans to continue to grow the business.
“When I leave school, I would love to make this a small business that employs other autistic people or people with mental illnesses who might struggle in the mainstream workforce.”
Due to moving around a lot, Kai and their brother were home-schooled up until 2021 and was keen to develop their business skills.
Kai commenced the VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) program at Federation College in 2021. This year, Kai is in the intermediate class and studying Works Skills VET (Vocational Education and Training).
The workload is also lighter than at high school because we are learning what is most important and not lots of subjects we will not use.”
Kai believes the VCAL program is important for students who are easily overwhelmed because of conditions like autism or feelings of anxiety. Kai also enjoyed the smaller class sizes than at high school, the shorter study week, and the flexibility of studying online if unable to attend in person.
“It teaches life skills that will make entering the workforce easier.”
“Three years ago, I would never have believed I would be able to attend a school, learn skills that would help me run a business, or make good friends as I have through Federation College.
“We all hope to live in Ballarat for a long time because we love it here. I would like to tell myself from three years ago that anything is possible.”
Kai’s jewellery business is called Busy Bees. Head to Busy Bee Trinkets website.
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