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A new go-kart camp at Okanagan College is offering youth more than just the thrill of sitting in the driver’s seat this summer – it’s giving girls ages 9-12 a week of hands-on training and the chance to test-drive a career in the trades.
Girls can Go-Kart Too! is a pilot project by the College and the Industry Training Authority (ITA). The ITA stepped forward with more than $6,000 in support to help bring the project to life as part of the College’s popular CampOC summer camps.
“Our goal in working with the College to create this camp was to give young girls an engaging, exciting and welcoming glimpse into what a career in the skilled trades is all about,” explains Gary Herman, CEO of the ITA.
This week a dozen girls stepped into the Automotive shop at the Kelowna campus, tackling everything from designing their go-karts to working on small engines, changing the oil, replacing tires, testing and fixing brakes, and installing ignition kill switches – all under the watchful eye of College instructors.
Jordan Chahley is one of those campers.
“What I love about this camp is that we learned how to do design and build our go-karts,” says the 11-year old. “Last year I went to the 3D printing camp, but this one is different and for me it was a lot more fun. When my mom suggested it, I knew this was the one for me. After camp is done, I look forward to being able to help my dad change the oil.”
While the camp was designed to help girls build their skills in the shop, connecting them with mentors was another priority.
“The girls are learning from Red Seal Endorsed College instructors and they’re also getting mentorship, support and encouragement from the Women in Trades Team, WITT Industry Mentors and WITT foundation participants,” explains Nancy Darling, Program Administrator for the College’s Women in Trades Training Initiative (WITT).
“And that last part – connecting them with mentors and role models, young women they can identify with – is perhaps most important. The hands-on training they’re getting is awesome, but those opportunities to interact with and receive encouragement from women in trades will hopefully be extra motivating and meaningful to these girls.”
After ensuring their go-karts were in good working order, the girls had a chance to put their creativity to work painting and decorating their carts.
Today, they took to the racetrack – which they also designed – to cap off the week with a friendly race and a BBQ with their parents, their instructors and officials from the College and the ITA.
“Above all, we hope this group of girls had fun and learned a lot this week, and hopefully their experience at the College sparks an interest or plants a seed that leads them to think about the skilled trades as part of their future plans for education,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College.
More information about the College’s Women in Trades Training Initiative is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/wtti.