TORONTO -- A program that teaches kids financial literacy and entrepreneurship is also showing young people how to give back during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We really are kind of raising the bar when it comes to not only entrepreneurship, but also giving back and being part of a society,” Explorer Hop CEO Hasina Lookman said. “That really is the kind of entrepreneur we need in the future, and we call them change-makers.” 

Explorer Hop teaches kids how to create an idea, take it to market, sell the product and give back to a charity of their choice. 

Recently, a group of young people from across Canada worked together, from their homes, to create a cookbook called “Kids Cooking Madness.”

“Kids Cooking Madness is a project that is very close to my heart as well,” Lookman told CTV News Toronto. “This happened right in the middle of the pandemic. What they decided was that all of them would go back and ask their families for recipes, and they would put together this book. Now, all of them are published authors on Amazon.” 

One of the leaders of that project was 12 year-old Max Herczeg, who turned to his signature dish for his contribution.

“I make these crepes for my family and they all love it,” he said. “So, I decided that I should put that in the cookbook.”

Herczeg said his group chose to create a cookbook because they all had a shared passion for food. He told CTV News Toronto that they began by choosing the charity they would be giving back to. 

“We came up with the [Canadian] Mental Health Association because during COVID times can be hard for some people and we wanted to make it a bit easier for people who are struggling,” he said. 

“I really want to acknowledge and celebrate the Explorer Hop team,” said Rebecca Shields, CEO of Canadian Mental Health Association for York Region and South Simcoe Branch.  


“Being able to contribute to something that was meaningful and exciting, and fun for them, that’s really what we want our kids to experience always, but especially during this pandemic.” 

Shields tells CTV News Toronto that money from ‘Kids Cooking Madness’ is going to their MOBYSS (Mobile York South Simcoe) youth walk-in clinic. 

“This is a wonderful initiative that is making a difference,” she adds. “I also bought a copy of the book and I’ve tried some of the recipes. I had a lot of fun! And I encourage other people to do that as well.”

For Lookman, ‘Kids Cooking Madness’ is just another reason for her to feel proud of her students. 

“We as a society like to give lip service about how we want to help the future and how we want to build the future, but if we really want to build the future, we need to give them the skills,” she said. 

“That really is our mission, to empower these kids with entrepreneur and financial literacy so you really have a child who is able to step and go to the next level.” 


Herczeg said he’s happy that his project is helping others, and that he feels inspired to do more charity work for causes he feels a connection to. 

“I feel very fortunate that I have a nice family that has money to support ourselves during COVID, but I know that other families do not,” he says. “So just to support them, even just a little amount, is always helpful.”