Richmond, Virginia teenagers had the opportunity to learn about construction planning and safety and then test their leadership skills guiding younger children through a hands-on build project during DPR’s three-day School of Construction for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond this May.
DPR’s Mid-Atlantic office tailored their second annual School of Construction event in a way designed to better engage teen members of the local Boys & Girls Clubs. Around 25 members from the Northside and Southside clubs, including five older teens, participated. They joined together with 16 DPR employees to plan and run an event that shared DPR’s unique technical skillsets with the community while educating local youth.
“The goal was really expanding our partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs and better engaging their teen population,” said Diane Rossini, community outreach coordinator for DPR’s Richmond office. “All of the teens were very excited to take ownership of the build. It was great to see the smiles on their faces when they succeeded in working through a problem.”
The School of Construction event kicked off with a planning day with the teen leaders. Teens partnered with DPR volunteers and discussed how they would be leading the hands-on building groups. DPR employees had the chance to share their various career paths and what DPR stands for as a company. The teens were also introduced to construction planning and Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools used in real-world scenarios including P6 scheduling, 3-D and 4-D modeling.
A follow-up pre-build and safety day with the teen leaders offered the teens an opportunity to work side-by-side with DPR volunteers, complete with a PPE safety gear demo and pre-task plan. The teens worked through the building process and gained the confidence they needed to lead the younger club members on build day.
During the actual School of Construction Day at DPR’s Richmond office, the youth were exposed to virtual and augmented reality tools used in construction and offered a chance to interact with a virtual construction site. Teen leaders guided groups of younger students to build five prefabricated planter boxes. Those boxes will be donated to Renew Richmond’s community garden education program at G.H. Reid Elementary School and installed by DPR volunteers in June.
Darricka Carter, director of corporate & foundation relations for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond, commented, “DPR’s School of Construction provided our club members a chance to learn new skills, be exposed to new career opportunities and instilled in them a sense of accomplishment. The skillsets they gained will help them set goals for their future and develop personally and professionally.”
Feedback from the teens themselves showed DPR succeeded in that goal–one that challenged them well beyond the typical role as student to take on a leadership role as a teacher instead.
“It was challenging to teach kids to want more,” said Tyreicq, one of the teen leaders. “I told them that if you want something you’ve never had in your life, you will have to do something you’ve never done.”
Teen leader Amira, a graduating senior who plans to major in mechanical engineering in college, had the chance to partner directly with DPR team members from engineering backgrounds who shared their experience with her. “It was cool to hear the perspectives of other individuals with similar interests and educational backgrounds,” she said.
David LeFebvre, director of development at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond added, “The School of Construction was a beautiful blend of service-learning, DPR employees’ expertise and team-building. It was such a well-designed program that allowed our kids to learn about what different kinds of jobs are out there, how they can contribute to their community, and how important it is to work as a team. This kind of activity is exactly what BGCMR is looking for to get our kids ready for life.”