Tag Archives: build

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!