Picnic Tables Tell a Deeper Story

What do picnic tables have to do with making a living? The answer is “everything” if you are a student interested in construction. Indeed, the building of a sturdy wood table could be a life-changing event for a young person still exploring interests and skills and unsure of future directions.

Over the summer, NEWESD 101 joined with Associated General Contractors (AGC) and the Spokane County Juvenile Court in developing a first-of-its kind summer training program for court-involved youth interested in construction. The three-week program, based at NEWESD 101’s YouthBuild training site, introduced students to all aspects of construction, including job safety and first aid, use of power tools, hands-on experience (building picnic tables for local non-profits), and concluding with workshops on resume writing, job interviews and financial literacy.

Shawn Kingsbury from AGC and Spencer Koonz from Juvenile Court directed the program, with workshop assistance provided by the Next Generation Zone (Spokane’s one-stop education and career training center staffed, in part, by NEWESD 101) and Inland Northwest Bank. While the finished products may have looked like handsome picnic tables, they were actually designed as doorways to a brighter tomorrow.

Measure twice; cut once: Shawn Kingsbury, second from left, and Spencer Koonz, far right, directed the successful pilot program introducing students to construction trades.
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