You Can Be Anything event a big success
Event includes mentorship spotlight on trades as careers
At eight years old, Xoe Nickerson knows what she wants to be when she grows up.
“I want to be a construction worker,” she said, after spending a day mentoring in the woodworking trades with Freshco blue-collar CEO Mandy Rennehan at the RennDuPrat shop in Yarmouth. Oh, and she also wants to be a karate instructor a couple of evenings a week.
The fact is, the possibilities of what Xoe and other girls can be is endless. And therein lies the message that was being sent to young girls on this day: You can be anything.
The day was a collaboration between Rennehan, Frescho, Mattel and Barbie, and was aimed at empowering girls and placing focus on careers that may not be seen as traditional for women — the trades. A construction Barbie was being celebrated on this day — the latest in about 180 careers the doll has portrayed through the years.
Rennehan, who has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top female entrepreneurs in Canada, was thrilled with how the day went.
“The fact that we can bring a global brand like Mattel and a kind of, I would say, a North American brand like me, that came from a small town and combine us together and see these young girls in pink, happy . . . this is just incredible,” Rennehan said at a Pop-Up Party held at the Yarmouth Mall. “The energy is off the charts.”
The Pop-Up Party included various activities and around 300 Barbies were given out for free. Staff in all the stores in the mall sported pink You Can Be Anything t-shirts as a show of solidarity for the message, as did the many event volunteers.
Rennehan said the day’s message was an important one.
“I want people to love who they want, be what they want and live the life that a lot of people before us couldn’t,” she said.
Asked if she sees more women going into the trades, she says not as many as she would hope, which she hopes to see change.
“I would like to tell you that the numbers are staggering, but they still aren’t,” she said, although they are climbing.
Xoe Nickerson, a Grade 3 student at Meadowfields Community School, won a You Can Be Anything Barbie Contest that gave her the opportunity to mentor alongside Rennehan for the day.
Mary Thompson, the principal of the NSCC Burridge Campus, spoke at the Pop-Up Party about the many types of trades programs that are offered at the community college in Yarmouth.
“While traditionally some of the trades have been male dominated, we’re seeing big changes and we’re seeing a lot of women coming it the trades,” she said. “It is truly one of the careers of the future.”
When Rennehan and Mattel decided to partner on this initiative, it could have happened anywhere — except that Rennehan knew it had to be in Yarmouth.
“A lot of the rural areas in Canada and other places get left out of many things,” she said. “Mattel and I very much had an understanding that if they wanted me to be the construction Barbie mentor that it was going to be in my hometown.”
Eight-year-old Xoe Nickerson was pretty comfortable with a hammer in hand.
Xoe Nickerson of Yarmouth got to spend the day mentoring with entrepreneur Mandy Rennehan recently as part of a Barbie/Mattel initiative called You Can Be Anything. On this day the focus was on trades and seeing more women become involved in them. Afterwards there was a celebration at a Pop-Up Party at the Yarmouth Mall.