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Give Back NH: Girls At Work

Girls at Work
Girls at Work program in Manchester, N.H.

Give Back New Hampshire is a bi-weekly segment that spotlights New Hampshire nonprofit organizations. It airs every other Saturday at 9:35 during Weekend Edition.

Listen above for this audio postcard featuring the voices of Girls at Work executive director Sue Champagne, founder Elaine Hamel, and student Jazmin Santos Torres.

Sue Champagne, executive director of Girls at Work:
I first got introduced to girls at work because I did a class with my daughter, my young daughter.We did a mommy and me learn-how-to-build class, so that was the first time I was introduced to Elaine and Girls at Work, and she quickly split us apart and told me that I was not in control here, that my little Emily was.

And she handed her a power drill and off to work she went.I think it's important to teach girls how to be confident and strong-- and learn that they can do anything in life. And it's kind of start by picking up a power tool. That's how they first become empowered and they learn that they can do this.

Elaine Hamel, founder of Girls at Work:
I think for a lot of girls, it can be a game changer.I feel like so many girls are often taught to not use their voice, right? They're taught to stay in their place. You can't deny that you're powerful when you're a little girl—you’re eight or nine and you're using the cordless drill or, you know, you're putting together a bench and then you sit on it. It's hard for people to convince you can't do this stuff once you have done it.

Jazmin Santos Torres, student: 

Girls at Work: Benches and boots (1).jpg
Girls at Work, based in Manchester, N.H.

When Elaine first introduced the programs, I was one of the first students to be there. I started this program when I was in fourth grade and it was my first time I had to deal with power tools.

I remember being a little nine year old, absolutely terrified, and I didn't know how to even deal with power tools or how to change the sandpaper on a palm sander. I really like it because it's empowering little girls, young women to step outside of a comfort zone into a space where maybe it's usually dominated by men. You get like this new experience, a safe environment and really empowering place to just learn something new and useful.I think one of my favorite builds was definitely my first project, my Adirondack chair.

It's sitting outside and if you look online, these things are like $200-- and it's crazy to believe I built one myself when I was in fourth grade.I would never imagined putting myself out there or stepping outside of my comfort zone or even self-advocating for myself. That was always something I was really scared of, and Girls at Work has empowered me, and given me the confidence and skills that I need to be independent — and take every opportunity.

Girls at Work is holding their first annual Art Made By Women Artisan Fair on Oct. 15-16 at 200 Bedford St., Manchester. Girls at Work is supported by donations and volunteers. You can find more information about donating here.

Emily has worked for NPR member stations since 2007. Before joining the NHPR staff in 2012, she served as local host for All Things Considered as well as Director of Business and Foundation Support for KUSP, Santa Cruz, CA. While living in Santa Cruz, she also produced 2 weekly music programs Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Free Radio Santa Cruz) and Taste of Honey (KUSP).

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