Girls Inc. partners with NAHA to offer free summer construction camp for teenage girls

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 9:08 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The North Alabama Homebuilding Academy (NAHA) recently partnered with Girls Inc. of Huntsville to offer a free summer camp, focused on construction. The goal is to educate teenage girls about the industry and provide them real-world foundational construction skills.

Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Huntsville, Stephanie Malone, said this is the first time her organization has partnered with NAHA. Participations in the Girls Inc.’s Eureka! Program, a 5-year STEM program focused on math and architecture, are the lucky ladies who get to attend the camp with NAHA.

“We always look for experiences where we can provide very hands-on, interactive activities for the girls,” Malone said. “For them actually working with power tools, and actually in construction and handling materials, it’s the first for us and it’s the first for the girls.”

NAHA Career Coordinator and Recruiter Jill Oxley said she was on board from the start. Her goal is to help destigmatize the idea that girls can’t be in construction.

“We decided it would be great to bring in girls at a younger age, to get them interested younger, so that way they grow up wanting to be a part of this industry,” Oxley said.

Students in the program learn how to use power tools, construct birdhouses and benches, and hear from local female business owners and homebuilders.

“Our first day with them we did a bird house project,” Oxley said. “It taught them all of the tools that they are going to be using for this massive build that they are doing, which is a picnic bench....and that picnic bench is going to be donated back to the community in a fun top secret location for them to find later on in the program.”

Camp member Riyomari Fletcher said the camp has taught her a variety of skills. At first, she wasn’t very interested in the construction industry, but now her mindset has changed. She even wants to come back later in the summer to learn more skills.

At the end of the camp, each girl takes home a tool kit and a handmade souvenir. For some, it’s the most rewarding part.

“What I’m most proud of is probably my bird house,” Fletcher said. “Just because of my grandma, she loves birds...I want to paint it and decorate it for her and when I bring it home to her, I want her to be proud of me.”

Girls Inc. of Huntsville offers a variety of programs over the summer. You can check out their website for more information.

Also, men and women 18 years of age or older are encouraged to sign up for the North Alabama Homebuilding Academy. You can fill out the Construction Boot Camp Application. Participants will get 96 hours of free hands-on construction training.

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