Girl Power

By Renee Gannon
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Renee Gannon
Many girls participated in the Girls Build event held at the Prairie Township Community Center on May 9. The event was designed to teach young girls about the importance of building and learning a trade.

On May 9 approximately 20 girls between the ages of 8-14 showed up to participate in a hands-on construction workshop that was held at the Prairie Township Community Center.

Kelsie Klein and Whitney Rice, both project engineers for Barton Malow, said that the point of the workshop was to reach out to young females who have not decided on their career path in hopes of inspiring them into going into the construction field.

“We want them to know they can make a living by going into the construction field. We want them to know that they don’t have to spend a lot of money going to college and possibly getting a degree that they will never use. This industry is not just about strapping on a pair of boots and trudging around in the mud,” said Klein. “There are a lot of positions that do not require a degree and a girl can make a lot of money in the construction industry.”

James Gant, director of the 3-year-old community center, said Barton Malow were the general contractors for the construction of the community center and he thought it would be a good program to have a hands-on construction workshop for girls.

“I’d eventually like to have a longer workshop – more like four weeks of hands-on learning instead of just a few hours,” he said.

Matt Russell, a representative of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC), was instrumental in organizing the event by designing and cutting out pieces and parts of wood for the girls to construct bird-houses. He instructed and equipped the girls with tape measurers, hard-hats, goggles and a slew of other fun stuff to help them learn more about the tools of the trade in the field of construction.

“I hope this triggers creativeness in their minds; that when they see their father or someone else constructing something, they will be inspired to perhaps make something on their own. The construction industry is not just for guys,” Russell said.

Lincoln Electric also participated in the event by setting up a virtual welding experience where the girls could get an idea of what it is like to be a welder.

Abby, a young participant in the hands-on training said that building the birdhouses was a lot of fun, and commented that she liked putting the pieces together to make a birdhouse.

“I think I’m going to try to build a doll house next,” she said.

Doreen Barnett, an apprentice construction worker, told the girls that she was there to help them get in tune with their “awesome Wonder Woman” skills. While toting around approximately 15 to 20 pounds of tools in her tool belt that she uses on a daily basis to perform her job, Barnett challenged the girls to a guessing game of what is this tool used for? Surprisingly, there were a few girls who could guess some of the tools.

“It is super cool doing things you never thought you could ever do, “ said Barnett. “Construction is a fulfilling job and you can see your accomplishments at the end of the day and at the end of a project. It’s not easy, but its fun.”

Russell said the workshop was meant to inspire younger people in general, noting that the industry needs more minorities and females.

“The IKORCC performs a lot of community outreach programs,” he said. “We try to go out and help in the community and do our part, and we do a lot to inspire and motivate people.

“At the end of the day, we are trying to spread the message to the younger generation, the bottom line is to be a positive member of society, you can change someone’s life by being positive, and if we can reach just a few and inspire just a few, then we have made a difference,” Russell said.

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