While other kids cut classes and make trouble, 15-year-old Anniken Cooper cuts grass and makes money.
His dad always has been there to guide him through life transitions, and now they’re partners in Anniken’s expanding business.
“I moved from Bettendorf to Davenport in fourth grade and it was weird adjusting to everything,” Anniken said.
Anniken didn’t get in trouble at school, but says he saw two of his friends go down the wrong path.
“I didn’t really think much of it because they didn’t grow up with a dad and so I always had my dad to help me and guide me down the right path so I just used that,” he said.
“So I started cutting grass and shoveling snow and stuff around like 13 or so and I’ve been doing that ever since.”
Anniken always was aware that some other kids turned to crime.
“I saw the crime on the news and stuff and seeing people getting killed, I was like ‘Woah, I’m not doing all that stuff, I’m just cutting grass. I don’t know why they aren’t doing that.”
He started by mowing his uncle’s lawn. The grass – and the business – just kept growing.
He started knocking on doors at 14 and started a Facebook page to market the business.
While he’s making money, he considers why other kids make other choices that aren’t so wise.
“I think they do it because they have no guardian to help them down the right path,” he said. “They just see their friends do it, so they do it too.”
He encourages other kids to look to their futures.
“Where will you end up? In the streets you’re going to end up dead or in jail, but business routes and legal routes you’re going to end up successful in the future.”
His dad, Marvin Cooper, is proud of his son, but saddened when he sees other kids his son’s age taking a wrong turn.
“He has more confidence and courage than I had at that age and also at the age that I’m at now,” his dad said. “I mean a 15-year-old kid who thought on his own to get his own business cards and pass them out to people in the neighborhood and it’s expanded throughout the Quad Cities.”
He, too, thinks lack of guidance is a key when it comes to juvenile crime.
“It hurts because they don’t have the confidence to do the right thing because they see their friends doing the wrong thing. And in order to fit in they have to go do the same thing they’re doing and they don’t have anybody to coach them in the right direction not to do that.”
He encourages other parents to step up to keep their kids out of trouble, and not worry about being a pal.
“Step up and just don’t worry about being their friend and worry about them being angry with you,” Marvin Cooper said. “Sometimes us as parents, we worry more about being their friend and having them like us than doing what we are supposed to do and make them do the right thing.”
“If Anniken is skipping class my job is to physically put Anniken back in class.”
To learn more about Anniken’s business, visit his website.