Category Archives: Blog

The power of Power Parties

There are conflicting arguments about the use of power tools by young girls. Unfortunately,  more often than not, the society we live in — influenced by toy manufacturers, media, Disney, and more —  is quick to define our young girls as “princesses” (fragile), while little boys are portrayed as “rough and tumble” (strong). There are few messages and/or experiences that encourage our little girls to tap into their strength, courage and power: Is it really any wonder that we continue to see the imbalance between genders? That imbalance is promoted from a very early age and the messages/experiences that little girls get are the building blocks for a foundation upon which our little girls build their lives.

We’re certainly not against princesses, but a balance is essential. Recently, we posted a photo of a little girl, wearing a tutu and a Darth Vader mask, on our Girls at Work, Inc. Facebook page. It portrayed strength plus style — and most likely some sweet dance moves. What a powerful combination. Is that not the balance that we want to give to our girls?

We, at Girls at Work, Inc., are about providing an experience that enables girls to tap into their inner power. We build with girls as young as 6, which is old enough to focus with instruction and young enough to perhaps have the experience help shape her mindset. We offer “Power Parties” for birthdays, so that little girls have the opportunity to not only celebrate a very important day in their lives, but celebrate that power that is inside of all of them. As a matter of fact, some of our builders even wear tutus!

“Teaching our daughters that ‘girls can do anything’ is one of the greatest lessons we can offer.”

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what mom Mary Johanna Brown had to say: “Thanks to Girls at Work, my daughter Haley’s 9th birthday was a great success! To watch her and her friends swinging a hammer, holding a power drill and sanding their creations was not only a gift for all of them, but an honor for me.

“Teaching our daughters that ‘girls can do anything’ is one of the greatest lessons we can offer. Elaine teaches in a no-nonsense hands-on manner that thoughtfully engages all participants. Thanks Elaine and Girls at Work for all the great work you do!”

Is there a young girl in your life who will celebrate a birthday soon? Before you decide to go down the princess path, consider a Power Party. We can travel to you and your birthday girl, or she and up to 14 of her friends can head to our shop. The girls will spend a couple of hours building a small shaker peg board that will be a tangible reminder of how capable and powerful they are. Then there will be much chatter about how excited they are to find out what else they are capable of!

Then, when the building is complete, the birthday girls and her buddies can eat all the princess cake they like — tutus not required!

Girls at Work, Inc. logo

Girls at Work, Inc. is a non-profit organization that offers our services to organizations that work with girls from group homes, low-income families, with incarcerated parents or parents in rehab. (While our focus is at-risk girls we don’t turn anyone away.)  We also work to build partnerships with youth organizations that focus on girls at risk. We rely on funding and sponsorships to help subsidize the cost of our program. Please consider donating to our cause!

Professionals step out of their comfort zones

Group build

Many companies look for ways to get their staff out of the office setting for exercises that challenge them to discover who they are as individuals as well as team members. Our corporate build program does just that. We can take our equipment to a business of the business can come to us to build in our workshop.

The Corporate Build Program is designed to help professionals step out of their comfort zones and rely on each other to complete a build. The majority of our participants have never used power Group buildtools, let alone built anything, so we have participants discuss how they feel at the beginning of the program. Many say they have feelings of frustration, failure, uncertainty and inadequacy. It is important for all of our participants to connect with these feelings, because while it is a passing moment for them, for many of the girls we build with, it is all they know.

Our initial goal for Girls at Work, Inc. was simply to empower girls through building. This mission has grown into a “larger than life” mission as it deeply reaches through to girls who have known nothing but failure. They are so defined by that failure that it takes extreme measures to shatter that mindset for even just a moment.

We provide an enormous amount of information and demonstration to teach our girls how to safely use power tools. We then provide a sample project with very little direction for assembling all of the pieces that they have cut, sanded and pre-drilled. This enables them to think critically and dig deep to prove to themselves that they are both capable and powerful!

At the end of our corporate build we asked participants to connect with their feelings once again. Words shift to “powerful,” “skilled,” “awesome,” and “so capable.” We then asked them to think about how this shift in mindset can help a young girl to —some for the very first time — feel powerful and smart.

The picnic tables built in the program are often donated to an area non-profit. We also apply all the revenue generated from our Corporate Build Program to our non-profit partnerships, which enables us to empower many more girls.

So if you are looking for an awesome, outside-of-the-box experience for your staff, here are a few reasons to consider a corporate build:

  1. Learning how to safely use power tools is empowering;
  2. Working with coworkers in a very unfamiliar environment provides challenges that inspire trust;
  3. A spark to help get you fired up to tackle projects around the house;
  4. Donating to a non-profit is a win for everyone;
  5. You are investing in your staff and young girls at risk.
Girls at Work, Inc. logo
Girls at Work, Inc. is a non-profit organization that offers our services to organizations that work with girls from group homes, low-income families, with incarcerated parents or parents in rehab. (While our focus is at-risk girls we don’t turn anyone away.)  We also work to build partnerships with youth organizations that focus on girls at risk. We rely on funding and sponsorships to help subsidize the cost of our program. Please consider donating to our cause!

Showing strength

Girls Leadership Camp at Kimball Union Academy, led by the amazing Brooklyn Raney, is one of the wonderful organizations with which we partner in New England.  The program is designed to promote assertive self-expression, teach important life skills, allow girls to practice leadership in a variety of settings, and inspire them to reach their full potential.

This week at GLC we worked with three different groups of girls; each group built a different project. Most of the girls were first-time builders; those who had built with us last year were excited to tap into the skills they had uncovered last summer.

Teaching girls how to use power tools safely and trusting them with power tools gives them an opportunity to live up to that trust. It is so powerful for both teachers and students to see the transformation. Not only do the girls get the opportunity to challenge their own beliefs about what they are capable of, they are also challenged to trust themselves. Our second group of builders was a good example: As they completed constructing the garden benches, they began to cheer and “high five” each other. But they didn’t sit on the benches. When we suggested they sit down on the benches they had just built, it was amazing to see how quickly their self-doubts surfaced. Sure, they learned how to use all those power tools, overcame a lot of fear and shattered some stereotypes in the process, but to sit on something they built? Internally, they were worried: Would the benches actually support some weight?

Then, our first young builder sat on the bench she had built with her partner. She and all of the other builders were so awed to see it support both of them. Their disbelief was shattered when she yelled, “You guys, they’re ‘sitonable.’” That’s a direct quote!

The time we spent watching those girls grow through building was priceless. We tip our (hard) hats to Brooke and all of the other wonderful women out there creating environments for our girls that allow them to tap into their true powerful potential.

Girls at Work, Inc. is a non-profit organization that offers our services to organizations that work with girls from group homes, low-income families, with incarcerated parents or parents in rehab. (While our focus is at-risk girls we don’t turn anyone away.)  We also work to build partnerships with youth organizations that focus on girls at risk. We rely on funding and sponsorships to help subsidize the cost of our program. Please consider donating to our cause!

Girls at Work participants

Unlocking the potential of girls

Bench built by Girls at Work

One of the wonderful organizations that we work with is Circle Program in Plymouth. In the Circle Program, girls from low-income families learn skills, courage and confidence to handle life’s challenges. The program combines adult and peer support via year-round mentoring and summer camp programs.

A Circle Program mentor recently donated a load of 200-year-old siding that was removed from her barn, which was built in 1790. The wood donation appeared to have very little potential – very much like the girls we work with, many of whom feel they have no potential.

Despite the rain, we picked up all of the lumber before heading north for the build. We have never before had the luxury of building with 200-year-old barn board. This wonderful Girls at Work participantsdonation provided a rare opportunity to discover just how beautiful weathered wood is – and how carefully it must be handled.

When our young builders first saw the lumber, their reaction was priceless. We explained that each board was filled with potential, and that the potential had yet to be uncovered. It was just incredible to see how the girls were inspired to bring out the beauty in each piece of lumber and how they handled it with such care. That is the approach that should be taken not only with 200-year-old weathered barn board, but with every young girl in each of our communities, regardless of where they are from. They are all so filled with inherent beauty and potential; it’s our job to bring that out for not only the world to see, but for them to see in themselves.

As we head to the Circle Program each summer, all of the young girls with whom we worked this week have built with us before. It’s a delight to work with our young, “seasoned’ builders! When working with experienced builders, we provide a brief demonstration and then allow them to refresh the building skills they mastered the summer before. We provide some instruction and after a day of building together, the girls work on their own with no instruction. We are adamant that all power saws are used with one instructor and one builder to each, but all other tools are available for use to everyone. One of our young builders was pretty convinced that there was no way they could build without more instruction on Day Two. We reminded her that if she believed she could do something she set her mind to, then the opposite was also true.

Our young builders blew our expectations out of the water. The little builder who shared her self-doubt (although many were probably feeling the same thing, at first) was bursting at the seams with confidence when she signed the table she helped build. The other girls showed just as much confidence. Programs that take girls far beyond their comfort zones can yield amazing levels of self-esteem.

If you are interested in bidding on one of these one-of-a-kind masterpieces, attend the Circle Program fundraiser in October. Or, if you would like a “custom” masterpiece, stay tuned: We will display a sample in a gallery to be opened soon in downtown Manchester!

Girls at Work, Inc. logo

Girls at Work, Inc. is a non-profit organization that offers our services to organizations that work with girls from group homes, low-income families, with incarcerated parents or parents in rehab. (While our focus is at-risk girls we don’t turn anyone away.)  We also work to build partnerships with youth organizations that focus on girls at risk. We rely on funding and sponsorships to help subsidize the cost of our program. Please consider donating to our cause!

Girls at Work, Inc.

EmPOWERing the girls at Zebra Crossings

 

Girls at Work, Inc.

An example of one of the many amazing partners we get to work with at Girls at Work, Inc. is Zebra Crossings, a program that provides enrichment programs for children with chronic health conditions. Girls at Work, Inc. partners with many social service agencies throughout New England to work with girls and empower them through building. Overcoming their fear of power tools and building something with their own hands leaves girls feeling powerful, strong and capable.Girls at Work, Inc. construction

We travel to sites in our truck, which is equipped with everything the girls will need to build for a day – or several days. All we require is an overhead structure to keep us dry, a power source, and girls who are ready to tap into their own inner power.

Zebra Crossings is a place where kids with chronic health conditions can learn what they are capable of achieving and how to live life to the fullest. It’s amazing to see some of what these girls struggle with, from partial paralysis to seizures. But don’t think for a second that illness prevents them from being determined to master each power tool!

Recently Zebra Crossings participants were introduced to the game of “carpetball.” Carpetball is a game that uses billiard balls and a special table with a big pocket at each end. Players throw the Girls at Work, Inc. project completedballs and try to be the first to knock all of their opponents’ balls into the opposite pocket. The game was a big hit and the girls asked if they could build their own version of a carpetball table this summer.

Put together safety glasses, lumber, screws, tape measures, cordless drills, palm sanders, speed squares, a mitre saw, and a bunch of young girls with focus, determination and lots of teamwork, and the end result is a wonderful new carpetball game. An even better outcome is a group of girls who feel powerful, skilled, smart and strong. When the parents arrived to pick up their little builders later that day, they were thrilled to see the new game – many even asked if they could rent it this summer! Hearing positive and encouraging comments from parents only fueled the fire of empowerment for these girls.

Girls at Work, Inc. logo

Girls at Work, Inc. is a non-profit organization that offers our services to organizations that work with girls from group homes, low-income families, with incarcerated parents or parents in rehab. (While our focus is at-risk girls we don’t turn anyone away.)  We also work to build partnerships with youth organizations that focus on girls at risk. We rely on funding and sponsorships to help subsidize the cost of our program. Please consider donating to our cause!