More than two dozen teens had the opportunity to pick up a hammer for the first time this summer, thanks to the Aberdeen Home Builders Association (AHBA). The association hosted “Introduction to Tools Day” for the Aberdeen Boys & Girls Club in July in Aberdeen, S.D., to help inspire the next generation of skilled trades professionals.
Capturing the students’ attention, whose ages range from 10 to 16, during summer is no easy task. AHBA worked closely with the Boys & Girls club staff to develop an engaging program that matched the students’ abilities and interests. The result was an hour-a-half session led by member volunteers explaining their background, showing standard tools used by professionals, and providing a hands-on activity.
On the day of the event, as soon as the students filed into the Boys & Girls Club Teen Center and saw the members with their tools, the excitement and energy were palpable, says Rachel Dix, executive vice president of the South Dakota Home Builders Association. To kick off the activity, teens took turns taking tools out of a toolbox and placing them on a large piece of paper with the names of each tool listed. Then the member volunteers discussed how and why the tools help complete a residential construction project.
After explaining the tools, the kids had a chance to use them. First, AHBA provided each participant with safety glasses donated by the local Aberdeen 3M. Then, under the direction of the member volunteers, they broke out into small groups and used a chalk line, hammered and removed nails, measured windows, adjusted a wall hanging with a level, and used a speed square.
“I was more than impressed with how the students listened and asked questions about our tasks. They all handled their activity tasks — hammering, measuring, chalking — really well,” said Kurt Preszler, AHBA President, MEGA Construction. “They listened and understood that safety was first. It was fun to watch them use the tools so well.”
At the conclusion of the activity, the HBA provided permission slips so each student could potentially participate in future careers in construction events hosted by AHBA. The association is one of several HBAs participating in NAHB’s Boys & Girls Clubs pilot program this year.
“Building trades are essential to our future,” said Dix. “The more we can share about the excitement of being involved in the trades, the stronger our industry will be in the future.”