Brooke Hammer has a mind for business and a heart of gold. This magic formula is empowering the Business Administration student to run her own business, change the world and tame dragons.
Ms. Hammer is the founder and executive director of Take Flight, an organization that connects youth with developmental disabilities to their community through day programs, services and respite care. Her entrepreneurial spirit was fuelled by challenges to find meaningful work, social interaction and independence for her brother Cole, a high school graduate with Down syndrome.
“My dream for Cole, and youth just like him, is to experience the immense joy, satisfaction, and pride that comes with belonging to a community,” said Ms. Hammer. “Working, giving back, continuous learning, recreation and socializing are pillars upon which we build our lives. Not to mention, regardless of ability: the need for affiliation, power, and achievement.”
Ms. Hammer launched a successful Take Flight camp in Fort Frances this summer. Drawing from experience as a respite staff and program leader with the Down Syndrome Association of Peterborough as well as many leadership roles within Trent, she orchestrated every aspect of the program from hiring staff to managing social media and finances, to providing personal care for participants.
She created a one-of-a kind program for local youth. She also gave her clients the summer of their lives.
“Running the Take Flight program has been amazing for me,” said Ms. Hammer. “It taught me so much about business as well as values, priorities and equality. As Cole says, ‘It makes my heart happy.’”
Encouraged, she entered the Dragon Slayer’s Den competition hosted this fall by the Trent Business Students' Association (TBSA) in Peterborough as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Competing against other driven students, Ms. Hammer presented her entrepreneurial idea within a brief 90 second window to a panel of judges comprised of local business experts.
“I was pitching my hopes and dreams—my entire life plan,” she stated. “The judges’ feedback had the ability to affect my plans for Take Flight. I focused on social value creation, profitability and scalability.”
To her delight, she won the competition, earning a private meeting with one of the judges and a cash prize. Moreover, she sharpened presentation skills, streamlined objectives and made valuable contacts.
Ms. Hammer anticipates many future business plans, proposals and presentations. While learning the business fundamentals at Trent within a course load that emphasizes entrepreneurship, she appreciates the many opportunities offered to improve her skills. She served as VP of marketing for the Trent Youth Entrepreneurship Society (TYES), participated in the Jeux Des Commerce Central (JDCC) annual case competition, and sought mentorship from FastStart, an extra-curricular, entrepreneurial program.
“It was the insight and mentorship by professors and other professionals at Trent that really made a difference and contributed immensely to my confidence as an entrepreneur,” said Ms. Hammer.
While preparing for the next business competition she is working to align with government and other partners. She is also planning to launch Take Flight in Peterborough in June 2016.
“The dream is for Take Flight to play an integral role in the lives of all developmentally disabled youth in Canada. The potential here in Peterborough makes it the perfect place to operate!”