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Has anyone ever used working wood specifically with hand tools as a means to mentor at risk youth?

I am a traditionally trained metalworker and have used hand tools in that field for the last decade and now transitioning from my power wood tools to hand tools. I believe that these provide great lessons of character and value.

Just wondering if anyone has ever done it?

A
 

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I can't say that i've mentored "at risk youth" but I have done some work with kids to teach them some woodworking skills. it's pretty difficult sometimes to get them to understand the benefits of having the skill when you don't see it a whole lot now as opposed to back in the day. I know my 5 year old has loved it since I started with him though, great way to keep kids busy doing something constructive and off the streets. good luck and thanks for thinking of the kids.

Iron Sides
 

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I haven't done it, but it reminded me of this:
http://www.blueoxmill.com/blue-ox-school.htm

Consider combining your skills and not just focusing on woodworking. Students can get a lot out of making things and seeing a project through to completion, gaining confidence etc and it probably doesn't matter whether it's wood or metal as the medium.

Congratulations for even considering it. Try talking to the people at your local Boys and Girls club if you have one or similar organizations that focus on at risk youth. Even if you didn't end up working directly with them, I can imagine they would have some good ideas and even training available for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have done it with metal working and it is a fantastic thing for these boys and girls. really teaches character and value.

I am in conversation with the local boys and girls club and since I live only a couple hours from Chicago and lived there for several years I am in conversation with boys and girls club there as well. Right now I am just trying to gain funding for the whole process. The advice I've received from the local makers space is to make it a non-profit program.

Thanks for all of the comments. I'm glad to be a part of this community!

A
 

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I live in a pretty rough area and I use woodwork as a way to teach youth how to apply ideas like math, engineering and design, and also instill a work ethic. I've run a program for 5 summers where I teach groups of kids how to build a step stool. They each have the same reaction more or less, a true sense of pride and accomplishment. When they are done they get to stand on this thing they have made and they always have a big smile.

My first group of kids graduates high school this year and each of them made it through (so far). Which is saying a lot for a high school with a 60% gradutation rate. I like to think I played a small role in that accomplishment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
HornedWoodwork,

I would love to know how you went about attracting the youth and the process you used. That is an incredible use of woodworking!

A
 

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I have thought about doing something like this in the past but then someone brings up issues about liability if someone gets hurt. The only times any "at risk youths" (my neighbor's kids) were in my shop, tools came up missing. I'm not sure I could afford to mentor someone but would definitely consider it under the right conditions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
For sure Willie, the right circumstances would be crucial. I have had metalworking tools turn up missing when I've brought kids into the shop. a lot of the time, at least in my experience, I keep working with the kids and the tools miraculously show up again.

A
 

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About 6 years ago they cut funding for "tech" in the local HS. (Actually they cut it a lot further back than that but they had to keep paying the teacher due to the union, he finally retired 6 years ago). I worked with the local boys and girls club and made arrangements to do a 2 week workshop with them during their summer program. Students sign up for the workshops that interest them at a "workshop bizarre." I haul out all the big loud whirring monsters and make a huge racket and I get a pretty good showing. Kids like powerful and dangerous tools (go figure huh) and getting them to sign up is a piece of cake.

My first crew was eight kids, the second year I had twelve. This last year I had almost thirty. Frankly I don't have the space or the money for that many kids, but what am I going to do? Say no? Not you? These kids hear no their whole lives before and after I get to them. I always find a way to say yes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
so great! What a great idea. Thanks so much for the idea of getting involved with the school system.

A
 

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It sounds like a great idea to me. In my town some friends
are setting up a "free store" and a maker-space. I'm involved
a bit and we've been talking about using one of the rooms
as a community woodshop. Machines present so many safety,
mess and maintenance issues. The only one I can might be okay
to let people use unsupervised would be a scroll saw or band
saw.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
For sure Loren. Unsupervised could make things exponentially more difficult. I'm not going for unsupervised. I'm thinking more one-on-one type of things working through a curricula of character building. Almost like "The Book of Sloyd" type things.

A
 

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I have been in the construction business for more than 40 years and in business for myself for 23 or the 40. Every summer we hire a summer helper. Sometimes that young person stays only one summer and sometimes they stay 2 or 3. We have found that when we are asked by the young man's (usually) parents if we are hiring for the summer, our reply is have them come to talk to me. 90% of the time they never call. And when they call we talk to them and have hired some. Rarely, does it work out well. They are being forced to do what mom or dad wanted them to do. The light bulb has not yet gone on. The good summer help comes from those that stop me on the street or at church and ask if I hire summer help. The light bulb has already gone on. They are good workers, show up on time and are mindful of the job. Now, some never decide to make it in the construction industry. Most, do something related to construction, concrete, plumbing, HVAC, Electrican or Carpenter, whatever.
I thing it is tough for a young person that probably doesn't have a good home life to find himself enough to make the first step. So, the idea of working with your hands and not for money is a good basic step. My feeling is that those kids are next door , down the street…many places. We as caring adults just need to seek them out.
 
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