GIRLS CAN Construction camp teaching and empowering young women

SHELBY COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Laci Kelley is determined. She wrangles a pair of pliers until at last, she frees a wire inside of an electrical socket. She is just one of 15 girls, from 8th grade to 10th grades, who are taking part in the GIRLS CAN Construction Camp in Shelby county this week.

"We want them to have exposure more or less and give them more of a sense of empowerment to think this might be an opportunity for us," says Career Technical Education Center Principal Zac McWhorter.

It appears to be working.

"It's a lot of opportunities to bring out your inner self and what you really like to do," says Laci.  "I love carpentry, the whole process of cutting the wood and nailing it together and also staining it. I think it's really cool."

The students are selected from Shelby county schools, and during the week long camp they learn carpentry, plumbing, welding and electrical skills from teachers and volunteers, many who are from Alabama Power.

Students say the lessons are teaching them about new career opportunities, and are also giving them skills to be independent, and be able to help others.

"It's something you can use every day. Like If your dad needs some help or your mom or your brother say 'Hey give me a hand here' and you can help them and know exactly what to do. If something is wrong at the house, you can say 'hey I know how to fix that! Call me over!' says Laci.

Madison Stagner says the camp has opened her eyes to new possibilities. "The opportunity to know new jobs that I can do, to get a feel of what I want to do when I get older," says Madison.

McWhorter says with many trade positions are going unfilled, and the need for women in the industry is great.

"For every 3 people that are retiring within skilled trades, only one of those spots in being fulfilled," says McWhorter. "We want to get girls more interested in skilled trade positions. They are a vital component to the skilled trades and generally think differently than guys do."

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