At Girls at Work, Inc. safety is our highest priority. We take every precaution to minimize the risk of injury to our participants and to ensure that everyone learns how to use tools safely and properly.
Although many folks donate used tools to our program, we only use tools that have been purchased by and for Girls at Work. (We are happy to take donations of used tools in good condition, however, we can often sell them and use the money toward new tools for the program.) We regularly inspect our tools to ensure that they are in good working order with all safety guards intact.
We encourage all of the girls to be extremely respectful of the ‘safety zones’ around a person or team using a power tool and we teach them not to step into that zone for any reason. To encourage them to focus and concentrate, we also discourage the girls from talking to anyone other than the person they are building with while they are using tools. The girls are carefully supervised by experienced adult builders. We stress the importance of focusing in the moment. We help the girls to understand that nothing matters more in that moment than paying attention to the power tool that is in their hands (during use). Although our rules are strict, or maybe because they are, we have never had to ask a girl to leave the work area, and no girl has ever been injured while in our program. Thousands of girls have built with us, scratch-free!
What kinds of precautions do you take to make sure that the girls are using tools safely and to minimize the danger of injury?
For starters, the girls wear safety glasses from the time they start, until they are completely finished building. We also offer ear plugs and dust masks and allow our builders to decide for themselves. We break the building process down into very easy steps. We talk about one tool at a time, do a full demonstration of that tool, allow the girls to ask questions and fully understand its use, then allow them to use that tool.
We encourage all of the girls to be overly respectful of the individual ‘zones’ and not to step into that space for any reason. The zone is the individual space that consists of someone using a power tool, or if they are building as a team, then two will be in that zone. We also discourage talking to anyone other than a peer that they are building with, this enables them to fully focus and be in the moment.
We stress the importance of focusing in the moment. We help the girls to understand that nothing else at all could possibly matter more than that power tool that is in hand (during use). Our rules are extremely strict, if their eyes leave the tool while it is in use, they are asked to leave the class (we’ve never had to ask any to leave!). They are so very excited to use the tools they are overly focused. While that sounds really strict, it has proven extremely valuable as we have had thousands of girls through the program, scratch free!
Can parents stay and observe the class?
We do not allow parents to stay and observe. Our programs enable young girls to step far out of their comfort zone (box) and really challenge themselves. This would not be possible with a parent nearby. While we certainly appreciate parents that are supportive, we also value providing an environment for girls to prove to themselves how capable and powerful they are, as an individual and as part of a team. Parents are certainly welcome to visit once our builders are done, to get the tour of tools that were used!
There is a wonderful tea/flower/gift shop two miles from our shop. We like to give the parents some time to themselves while their daughters are building.
What sort of clothing should my daughter wear? What should she specifically not wear?
Clothing is not as much of a concern as jewelry or long hair, that may ‘get in the way’. We keep hair ties on hand for those with hair that may distract and any clothing or jewelry that may hang into their workspace is removed or tucked.
Should I pack her a lunch, snack, or water bottle?
Yes, all of the above, especially water. We take several brief breaks to eat/drink as opposed to long lunch breaks. The girls are so excited about all that is happening for them that any down time to talk about it all really leaves them ‘off track’ and it is difficult to get them settled and back into the ‘zone’. The ‘zone’ is that safe place where it is ‘you and your tool’ and that is all that matters. All are expected to respect the zone for their peers.
Please do not pack anything with sugar as that triggers highs and lows that are not helpful in shop.
How will you be able to include my disabled daughter in the class? How do you respond to girls who are afraid or timid?
Many of the girls that we work with are afraid (of tools) and or timid in general. We explain how fear is a healthy gauge to have with power tools as a reminder of the danger involved. The first tool we use with each girl is an electric palm sander. This is a perfect first tool as it enables them to overcome some of the fear and the noise associated with power tools and it leaves them feeling really powerful! This is the foundation that we build upon with each new tool they learn how to use. This is also why our builders leave us feeling: ”Awesomer”, “Great about me” “Powerful and super strong” and “…that I can do anything boys can do!”
We work with many girls that are disabled and they tend to stop us in our tracks. They refuse to let their disability get in the way as they are so excited to learn how to build. We provide additional one on one assistance in a way that does not leave them feeling that they are ‘needy’ or ‘challenged’. We recently worked with a young girl whose left arm was fully paralyzed and another in the same group that had cerebral palsy, but that did not get in the way with either of these builders!
My daughter left your class wanting to build more, do you offer ongoing classes?
We do offer ongoing workshops for most of the camps/organizations we work with. We run school vacation workshops that you can sign your daughter up for. We also are happy to talk to the principal at the school your daughter attends to see if there is interest in having us set up our program in her school.
How old do the girls need to be to build ? How many can you build with in one day?
We start at 6 years of age. We do smaller projects with the younger girls but they use all of the same tools as the older girls we build with.
We ask that you let us know how many girls you would like us to build with and we customize the day or days with you. Some days we work with ten girls for the entire day and build larger projects for the camp/organization. Other days we will have up to 100 girls go though the program with ten girls per class holding classes every hour on the hour and each girl will have a shaker peg board to take home. Some groups we will build with for a series of days, some camps we build with one day a week or one day per session.
What sort of building do you do with girls?
We do all sorts of building with girls! We do not provide kits for the girls, we provide material, power tools and instruction. The instruction is all about tool use and safety and very little about the ‘building process’. We do not provide the actual ‘steps’ of assembling, because allowing them to think it through, as a first time builder, really challenges them to dig deep (it’s so exciting for them to ‘figure it out’)! They become fascinated by the process and develop an interest in understanding how things around them are constructed. This process really inspires them and they begin to realize that they can build anything!
Is there an age limit and do the girls need to be ‘at risk’?
We build with any age (6+)! We can build with your staff during pre camp, as well as your campers. Our staff build program will not only empower your staff through building, but it will also provide some wonderful team bonding. Building together for the first time creates lasting bonds. It will also enable directors to observe newly hired staff and quickly see who the leaders are, who the ‘worker bees’ are and expose you to their many different work styles.
We feel every girl is ‘at risk’ to some degree, so we work with all girls!
Do you build with boys?
While it is important to provide programs for boys at risk to feel successful (and we feel building provides that) our goal is to build with girls at risk. Many girls will not have the opportunity to build in school, because taking a shop class that is full of boys is far too intimidating. Our hope is that exposing girls to building in a safe and supportive environment, will enable them to overcome some of that fear in a school setting.
Why hire Girls at Work, Inc. to build with our employees?
Girls at Work, Inc. offers a truly unique experience. Most participants in our Corporate Build Programs have never had the opportunity to use power tools. In nearly all of our workshops we continue to see first time builders experience similar emotions early on, such as fear, uncertainty, frustration and trepidation. Experiencing these emotions in an unfamiliar setting (our workshop) enables participants to see each other through a new lens and the playing field becomes leveled. This results in a powerful team building experience where the end result astonishes most builders.
This truly unique program offers an opportunity to:
• Donate the items built to a non profit in need of such items.
• Learn to overcome the fear associated with power tools.
• Become familiar with how to safely use power tools.
• Discover some hidden talents in the building arena.
• See colleagues on a level playing field.
• Work together to accomplish a common and unfamiliar goal.
• Support a program that empowers girls at risk in OUR communities.
Will Girls at Work, Inc. build with both men and women on our staff?
While we are all about empowering girls at risk, our Corporate Build is open to both men and women. We also provide the option to build here in our shop or to ‘set up shop’ at your location.