Inspiring Change

10 at-risk youth attend a week long welding educational program hosted at Robert Bateman High School in Burlington, Ontario

Inspiring Change

Teenagers deal with a lot of outside influences; so many paths to take in life; many pressures that can have both a positive or negative impact on their decision making and how they progress in life’s journey.

To provide some guidance and an avenue to explore the welding profession for 10 at-risk youth, the Canadian Weld­ing Association Foundation (CWA Foundation) funded a week long welding educational program in partnership with Liberty for Youth that was hosted at Robert Bateman High School in Burlington, Ontario.

“Partnering with Liberty for Youth is always rewarding,” said Deborah Mates, Executive Director of the Canadian Welding As­sociation Foundation. “In the beginning, the youth are typical­ly reluctant, but the moment they start welding, the introvert personality tends to get left behind and then they have so much fun and open up. It’s really a special moment to watch the en­joyment they’re having when working on projects as a team.”

Seventeen-year-old Imad Taj participated in the welding pro­gram and said the experience was exciting because its hands-on approach. He also liked how he could see the progression of a project from start to finish.

“I had a lot of fun working with my hands,” he said. “The teach­er was great and the project was a lot of fun. We welded a fire pit from scratch. It looks so cool. I’m glad I was part of this pro­gram.”

The grade 12 student from Hamilton, Ontario said the experi­ence has encouraged him to consider pursuing welding because of the various avenues the profession offers.

“I’m looking into school options but I’m open to apprenticeship opportunities. I think welding pipe would be a lot of fun and the inspection side of things sounds interesting. That’s what I really like about welding - the different options.”

Jasmine Snowdon, 17, also a grade 12 student, said her expe­rience was memorable because of the creativity involved with welding.

“I never knew how creative welding was until I tried it,” she said. “The fire pit was a lot of fun and shows that a lot of creativity goes into these types of projects. This was a great experience and I’ll do it again for sure.”

Yvan Poulin, welding instructor at Robert Bateman High School, who volunteered his time, said seeing how the students pro­gressed over the course of the program was inspiring because of their determination to hone their skills and get better every time they donned a helmet and flipped down the lid.

“Personally seeing how much fun they were having and their willingness to learn and improve their welding skills was in­spirational,” he said. “As a welding educator, it’s our goal to see how this profession can inspire people and this program did just that. I’m thankful I was part of this and the work the CWA Foundation is doing for the industry is quite spectacular. They’re changing the way the welding profession is perceived throughout Canada.”

Liberty for Youth Intake Coordinator and Program Facilitator Cliff Simon said the youth who participated in the program had a great experience and enjoyed every moment while in the shop.

“We’ve worked with the CWA Foundation on several of these welding programs for the kids at Liberty for Youth and it has always been a success,” he said. “These types of programs pro­vide the youth with an opportunity to explore career opportu­nities they may not have considered, while encouraging them to be creative, work both independently and as a team. These initiatives build character and we’re fortune enough to be col­laborating with the CWA Foundation.”