Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Visit to the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, Virginia.

While in the USA in November, I was delighted to visit the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, in my quest to check out youthworking programs which use woodworking activities.
This pic shows me outside the ASF's floating office.

Some background info from their website:

Doing Big Things with Small Boats!
Through the building and use of wooden boats, the Alexandria Seaport Foundation helps at-risk youth turn their lives around and provides families, community groups, and schools with meaningful educational, social, and recreational experiences. Full-time apprentices earn their GED and prepare for a career in the building trades. The latest additions to our program include vocational training in green construction, a summer program, and an afterschool program.

Special thanks to the legendary Joe Youcha, the hands-on Executive Director of the ASF, for meeting with me and showing me around the workshops. An inspirational guy with a very exciting set-up. One of the wonderful things about this program is the use of volunteers from the community, who work alongside the young people as they build the boats together.

This pic shows Joe Youcha (right) chatting with one of the young participants, who was working on varnishing this beautiful wooden boat he had helped to build.

Prior to the Global Financial Crisis, the ASF had a very high success rate in transitioning the young participants into the mainstream workforce. With high unemployment in the USA now, these outcomes are more challenging to obtain - however the organisation through its wonderful commitment to its participants is exploring other creative ways to assist the trainees to find ways into the workforce with their woodworking skills.

There is a lot of complex maths involved in setting out the hull of a wooden boat. The ASF program has developed very effective ways of teaching mathematics to young people who may have been able to make sense of it in school.

This pic shows the guys working on the preliminary setting out being done for another boat hull.

Beautiful boats made in a very positive learning environment. This program was very exciting, and I was so pleased to be able to check it out!

The website for the Alexandria Seaport Foundation is definitely worth having a look at:

For more great info and pics about the ASF, check out the Meyer Foundation Annual Report via this hyperlink:

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