Our House Youth Wellness Centre is looking for help outfitting its new woodworking shop.
Donations of wood, tools, and safety equipment are needed for the new project that will help youth build a strong skill set for life. The center has been transforming its large barn into woodworking shop, according to Amy Woolvett, executive director.
"While the shop will be open to all youth in the fall," says Woolvett. "We are kicking it off with a boys’ mentorship program."
This pilot program will be facilitated by Keith Nickerson, a local teacher at Shelburne Regional High School and former carpenter. The program is expected to begin July 3 and run every Wednesday evening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
It’s open to all boys ages 12 to 18 in Shelburne County, and will initially be delivered as a pilot project this summer, then open to all youth in the fall. The idea of the boys’ Shed Project was born out of the popular men's Shed Project based out of Australia, according to Woolvett.
"Studies have shown that boys and men are more apt to speak up or engage in conversation when working side-by-side over a shared project rather than sitting in a living room or circle setting," she said.
"We have created many excellent programs for girls but were lacking in a program where male youth in the community were supported and can be themselves."
So far, the response has been positive, as the youth have already compiled a list of projects they hope to build. They will also have the opportunity to learn how to manage a small business or marketing skills for their completed work.
"They will be able to sell the projects they make," says Woolvett. “The youth will keep 50 per cent of their sales for some cash in their pockets, and the remaining money will be recycled back into the program to purchase more supplies.”
While the Shed Project has a woodworking theme, it is only one of many layers.
"Just like the girls, the guys need a safe, supportive space to ask the tough questions or be themselves," says Woolvett. "We don't plan to force any of it, but hope just by creating the space, a supportive network will form."
The project was developed through the Sexual Violence Prevention Program funded by the province where an ongoing conversation and programming surrounding consent, body positivity, independence, healthy relationships and more is helping youth to make informed choices and reduce the risk of sexual violence and sexual exploitation.
"We are building so much more than picnic tables and deck boxes," says Woolvett. "We hope to build better boys."
After this article appeared in the Tri-County Vanguard, Woolvett shared on social media a call she had received a call from a gentleman in Manitoba "who said he was so excited to speak to me he couldn’t get his words out right. He read the story in the Tri-County Vanguard. He was the founder of the Men’s Shed Project of Canada. They have been battling men’s health and mental health issues for a decade and said Our House was the first in Canada to adapt the Shed Program for Youth."
Meanwhile, Woolvett also said that Our House is looking to create a 'Day of the Girl project' in the fall. Keep an eye out for details.