Role mod­els open doors for young women

Role mod­els hope to in­spire young women to ex­plore di­verse ca­reer al­ter­na­tives

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - DAVE BATTAGELLO dbattag­ello@post­media.com

There may be plenty of avail­able jobs, but few young women ever con­sider oc­cu­pa­tions in the fields of con­struc­tion, skilled trades, en­gi­neer­ing or emer­gency re­sponse. The lo­cal group Build a Dream has been work­ing hard to help change the per­cep­tion, pro­vide fe­male role mod­els and en­cour­age teenage girls to pur­sue oc­cu­pa­tions some may still con­sider as male-dom­i­nated jobs.

The group hosted a show­case event Thurs­day at the Cio­ciaro Club at­tended by close to 1,200 fe­male stu­dents be­tween grades 9 to 12, plus their par­ents. There were round­table dis­cus­sions, plus sev­eral in­for­ma­tion booths set up to visit. They in­cluded Wind­sor po­lice, fire­fight­ers, con­struc­tion com­pa­nies, tool shops, Univer­sity of Wind­sor’s en­gi­neer­ing school and fac­ulty from St. Clair Col­lege.

Also fea­tured was key­note speaker Sherry Holmes — daugh­ter of tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity Mike Holmes — who has fol­lowed in his foot­steps as a con­trac­tor. “We be­lieve you can’t be, what you can’t see,” said Nour Hachem, pres­i­dent for Build a Dream. “When you see some­one like Sherry Holmes, who was in­spired by her fa­ther to go into the con­struc­tion field, it sends a mes­sage that this is a ca­reer op­tion and (in which) you can be suc­cess­ful. “All the em­ploy­ers that are here will net­work with par­ents and their daugh­ters to show­case op­por­tu­ni­ties for young women.” Build a Dream was launched in 2014 to help bet­ter diver­sify the lo­cal work­force in sec­tors that also in­clude STEM pro­gram­ming (sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics).

“It is im­por­tant to show these young women there is a jour­ney to suc­cess in these ca­reers — but also their par­ents,” Hachem said. “We want to make sure each child walks away with a mes­sage, but also make sure their par­ents have the same mes­sage so they can help their daugh­ter pur­sue their ca­reer path­way.”

Part of the event was a “dream zone” where the young women were able to try on uni­forms, touch equip­ment and tools to get a feel for each pro­fes­sion.

Lo­cal school boards were on hand to dis­cuss ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties to help bet­ter pre­pare for ca­reer choices. Work­force Wind­sorEs­sex and Women’s En­ter­prise Skills Train­ing are also strong sup­port­ers of Thurs­day’s event and Build a Dream’s ef­forts.

“The turnout for to­day shows the ap­petite and sup­port in Wind­sor and Es­sex County for Build a Dream and help­ing to bet­ter diver­sify our lo­cal work­force,” Hachem said.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Build a Dream or­ga­ni­za­tion and events, go on­line at www.we­buil­dadream.com.

PHO­TOS: NICK BRANCACCIO

Con­trac­tor and TV host Sherry Holmes, cen­tre, poses with ap­prox­i­mately 1,200 fe­male stu­dents and their par­ents Thurs­day at the Build a Dream event at the Cio­ciaro Club. Em­ploy­ers from fields typ­i­cally seen as dom­i­nated by men were there to net­work with stu­dents.

Danielle Robin­son, left, Kar­men Greene and Emily Price are in­tro­duced to po­ten­tial ca­reer op­tions as they wear fire­fighter and po­lice uni­forms.

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