Queensland Mum of two Melissa Soutar has created SPARK POP as an online kids’ experience marketplace that’s also a certified Social Enterprise by Social Traders.

The idea came about a couple of years ago, when Melissa Soutar was doing the annual post -Christmas clear out. “During the clean out we threw out about two thirds of a wheelie bin of plastic, broken toys and it was just heartbreaking. I was deeply moved by it,” Ms Soutar said. “We had three birthday parties for the boys’ friends soon after and I thought, how can I gift another toy?”

She ended up buying the children an ‘experience’ present but found the process a bit burdensome. She also wanted the recipients to have the option to choose their own adventure. “Working parents don’t have time to go down a rabbit warren of research. I thought, why don’t we bring it all together in one marketplace?” Melissa investigated and found nothing like this existed, so she came up with the solution.

SPARK POP is an online platform that offers everything from attractions to live entertainment, wildlife experiences and tours with businesses that specialise in safe, enriching experiences for kids aged three to 15 years old and their families. More than 150 experiences are currently available across more than 60 South-East Queensland businesses, with SPARK POP continuing to expand. The experience can be booked online, or the buyer can purchase a SPARK POP gift card so the recipient can choose any experience and book it for a time that suits them.

Recent research by Australian Toy Association and Sustainability Victoria revealed 220 million toys are sold in Australia each year. Of these, 51 per cent are thrown out as waste within 12 months of purchase. SPARK POP is on a mission to reduce waste, get kids active and move towards a sustainable future. “Broken toys can be taken to our nominated venues and they’ll be shipped to TerraCycle where it is sorted, turned into plastic granules and transformed into new products. We also give back with every purchase to the Smith Family to support their education programs,” Ms Soutar said.

SPARK POP allows local businesses to gain greater exposure and opportunities to network with other likeminded organisations. Village Roadshow Theme Parks is one of the Gold Coast businesses that have jumped on board. “Village Roadshow Theme Parks is proud to partner with Spark Pop as they launch this innovative new platform providing a one stop shop for experiences, gifting and parties,” a Village Roadshow Theme Parks spokesperson said. “There is a wonderful synergy between Village Roadshow Theme Parks and Spark Pop with a focus on providing everlasting memories and experiences with a focus on sustainability.”

Readers also enjoyed our story about Faye Tan Mama Movement