Reaching the next generation of construction workers has been an important goal at NAWIC for many years. As an organization we have seen the importance of educating the youth on the construction industry to break some of the common stereotypes we see for women in the construction industry today.
To support reaching the next generation, NAWIC’s Education Foundation has created the Block Kids program. The Block Kids Program introduces children to the construction industry in an effort to create an awareness of and to promote an interest in future careers in one of the many facets of the industry. During a Block Kids competition, the participants have 40 minutes to an hour to construct a project using approved building blocks and materials. The competition is open to all K-6 students, allowing each student to learn that building and construction is an option for any gender.
To gain some insight on The Block Kids Program we interviewed Robin Fulton-Meyer. Robin has been a judge for the Block Kids competition for 20 years and was introduced to the program by her chapter when she assisted them in chartering their own competition. When she is rating each child’s build the number one thing she looks for is creativity. Every year she looks forward to interacting with the participants and seeing their excitement and creativity at work. “Having the child explain their project to me and watching their excitement and imagination is so cool,” she says.
When asked what the most important things are she looks for when choosing a winner she said, “If I can see what the participant has built according to their description, is the most important thing that I look for when choosing a winner.”
Each competition is a great outlet for kids to explore their creativity, and for most kids their first experience with building and the construction industry. “Developing their sense of creativity and wanting to develop something that will be there for years to come is important. I also think that their taking pride in their project helps them in wanting to do a good job.”
This program can be a great positive outlet for young girls to be introduced to construction. Robin believes that the program exposes girls to vast opportunities in the industry at an early age, giving them a boost over others. “A girl can do anything that she wants to do as long as she is determined and has the passion for what she is doing,” she says.
If chapters are interested in hosting their own Block Kids event, Robin offers a few great tips. “Start out small and involve the community in the event. Invite construction companies to participate, both financially and with personnel. Advertise your event and try to get the local media to come and do a story and/or feature story for the broadcast or newspaper. Partner with another association or group to sponsor the event.”
For more information on NEF and the Block Kids Program, visit nef-edu.org.
The National Association of Women in Construction provides all female builders with support, networking and mentorship, leadership training, and educational opportunities. NAWIC has more than 6,100 members in 120 chapters across the US, and affiliates across the globe. Contact a chapter near you to learn more.